Travellers' Tales February 2005


27/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Paul Roth - Rustington (Sussex County League 3). Saturday 26th February; Sussex County Lge. Div 3; result 4-3; Programme given away for a donation.

On Saturday I travelled down to Sussex for this Div. 3 lge. fixture. I made the journey by train from Victoria arriving first in Worthing where I enjoyed a wander round sampling some fine beer in pubs selected from this year's GBG. I travelled on to Angmering and walked the 20 minutes to the ground in Jubilee Avenue.

What a lovely surprise the place is as well. The pitch is totally railed off and has the feel of a proper football ground. The goals sported blue and white striped netting as per Rustington F.C. colours. Despite all the snow and rain the playing surfce was near perfect.

A vibrant clubhouse is positioned next to the entrance - alas not selling real ale! From there the excellent programme was given away for a small donation. Another really newsy 32 pager this, full of well thought out content - I really liked the team line ups done out in the alternate colours of the respective teams.

The game itself was a superb advert for this level of football. Rustington swept into a 3-0 lead within 25 minutes only for Upper Beeding to draw level midway through the second half. Back came the home team to take the game 4-3 with a goal 5 minutes from time.

Once again my weekly football "fix" had not disappointed and another tremendous day had resulted


27/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Andy Sneddon - Barnoldswick Town (West Lancs Lge Prem Div).


Saturday 26th February 2005.

West Lancashire League Premier Division

Barnoldswick Town 4 Hesketh Bank 7

Admission: £2
Programme: No

Another freezing cold Saturday and another feast of goals at an excellent venue.

Barnoldswick is high up on the Lancs/Yorks border North of Colne and in some ways it seems a bit odd them being in the West Lancs League. However, when you take into account that this is the best oute up through the pyramid in this area it seems a logical progression for a club that is obviously as ambitious as Barnoldswick are.

The current name came about due to a merger between the former United and Park Rovers clubs and the merged club now uses both grounds. The firsts using the United ground (the one featured here) and the Barnoldswick Park Rovers ground today being used by the club's third XI. This ground is separeted from the main ground by a cricket ground, but all three grounds are separate and distinct. The former Park Rovers ground (who use to play in the East Lancs League) still has a quite sizeable cover behind one goal and is enclosed and railed.

The main ground is undoubtedly one of the best in the West Lancs League. It is pretty much fully enclosed with a pay box at the entrance through West Close Park. The whole pitch has hard standing, with the near side as you come in having a small grass bank running the length of the pitch which raises you 4-5 feet above pitch level affording excellent views of the pitch and the hills beyond. The near end at the entrance is stone walled to separate a very ground private house from the ground. The far side has an excellent covered terrace (built in 1983) with 5 concrete steps and would easily hold 100-150 spectators. The far end is a mixture of old and new. There's the dressing rooms and the old tea room which are rather starting to show their age somewhat, whilst next door is a superb new clubhouse with excellent views of the pitch, two TV's and a tea bar serving some of the best pasties I've tasted in a long time. In front of the dressing rooms and the old tea room is a mixture of terracing and some park benches. No doubt very pleasant in August but the stand was a better bet on a day like today!

The home side are currently involved in a dogfight to avoid the drop from the Premier Division, visitors Hesketh Bank were safely placed in mid table.

The game was a curious affair, very even in the first half and 1-1 at half time. The turning point was a disputed penalty to the visitors early in the second half. The keeper saved the first attempt but the ref ordered a retake. The keeper's protestations earned him a red card and with the stand in unable to stop the resulting retake the odds were stacked against Barlick (as they are known locally). In no time at all they were 5-1 down but refused to cave in and when they got it back to 6-4 with about 10 minutes remaining the seemingly impossible did look just about possible after all. However a late 7th for the visitors killed the game off and left us all breathless trying to make sense of what had been a frantic and incident packed 2nd half.

Barnoldswick Town are a friendly and welcoming club and the ground is well worth a visit. The facilities put many clubs in higher leagues around the country to shame and what they've achieved over the last 20 years or so speaks volumes for the hard work of the dedicated Committee.

A visit comes highly recommended.

27/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Mike Latham - Rangers (BoS Premier League).

Rangers 2-1 Kilmarnock, SPL, Sat 26 Feb 2005


Ibrox Stadium has a reputation of being one of the most intimidating in the UK but a cold and sunny late February afternoon the welcome was warm as Rangers extended their lead at the top of the SPL to six points with a 2-1 win over Kilmarnock (att -48,575).


Extensively modernised in the late 1970s and early ‘80s Ibrox is a magnificent stadium with steep rows of seats giving a fine view of the action from every vantage point.  A third tier was added to the main stand in 1994 and entry to this was £22 adults with £20 charged elsewhere- cheap by Premiership prices.


The stewards and police were friendly, as too were Rangers fans in the stand with the lady in the next seat explaining how she had watched Rangers’ victory over Celtic last weekend while on holiday in China. 


Rangers’ win- courtesy of first half goals by Prso and Novo was marred by a suspected broken leg to Alan Hutton.  Kilmarnock threatened an upset with a Boyd goal 14 minutes from time but Rangers could have won by a wider margin, their patient, passing style of football impressing.


It was noticeable that few Kilmarnock fans had made the short journey from Ayrshire- they were located in the far corner of the Broomloan Stand.


The atmosphere was largely muted though the fans occasionally broke into sustained chanting and was far less intense and fervent than anticipated.


The stairways were clean, bright and well marked and the refreshment floor on the top tier gave wonderful panoramic views over Glasgow.


A colourful programme with plenty of reading material but precious little information on the opposition sold for £2 and the prices in the well-stocked souvenir shop were considerably less than English comparisons. The journey north via the M74 and M8 was uneventful and the ground is easily found off J23 of the M8 with a choice of street parking or paying a whopping £8 to park in the massive carpark near the ground.


The red brick façade of the main stand- a listed building- makes Ibrox one of the most distinctive in Britain and the visit was thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended- carparking charges apart.


23/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Mike Latham - Burscough (Unibond Lge)

Unibond  League Premier Division; Burscough 1-3 Workington (att- 231) Tues, 22 Feb 2005


Victoria Park, Burscough is one of the pleasantest of places to watch football.  The journey from the M6 motorway takes you through delightful villages like Wrightington and Parbold and the view from the top of Parbold Hill is quite awe-inspiring, though the sneaky speed camera placed at the bottom of the descent can ruin your day.


The ground is located at the bottom of a residential street just over the canal bridge near the centre of the village of Burscough.  A sports centre, all-weather pitch and social club lie alongside and the ground is well maintained and full of friendly people.  A pleasant steward helps you park your car, the greeting at the turnstile (admission £7 adults) is warm and an excellent 44-page programme sells for a bargain £1.50.


The tea-bar is manned by smiling, happy staff and purveys all the necessary items and the club shop stocks an excellent range of old programmes and other souvenirs with the distinctive green bob woolly hats doing a roaring trade on a night of sub zero temperatures.  A club official explained that they rarely suffer from frozen pitches due to their close proximity to the coast.


Leaders Workington arrived boasting the meanest defence in the league up against the most prolific attack and went back to Cumbria with a hard earned 3-1 win after a terrific game full of interest for the 231 crowd.  A good number of Reds fans had made the long midweek journey down and their loyalty was certainly rewarded.


Burscough reached the national stage with their memorable FA Trophy win in 2003 and are clearly a proud and ambitious club with deep roots in the community and a thriving junior set-up that provides a conveyor belt of talented youngsters through to the first team.


There is a small main stand and cover on two other sides with a superbly flat and well grassed playing surface.  The tannoy must be the best in Non League football for its clarity.  Even on one of the coldest nights of the winter it was a journey well worthwhile.


 22/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Rod Grubb - Chobham (CCL1)

Chobham and Ottershaw are no more as Secretary Debbie Bexon has confirmed that "the name was changed this season to Chobham F.C." and programmes reflect this fact.
Help! Anyone got a spare copy under the Chobham and Ottershaw name?
Note: Chobham v Ditton (CCL1) - Sat 19 Feb 2005 - 8pages, £1 (probably including admission).
 22/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Rob North - Fleetlands (Wessex 3)

Fleetlands did not print for their home game against Farnborough North End on Sat Feb 19th and have not produced a programme this season. Secretary's quote was " it would just be another job for me to do!"
Pity really as the attendance was about 50, quite decent for the level.

 21/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Paul Roth - Street (WL1)

Sat.19th Feb. STREET  vs  SALTASH UTD - Screwfix Western lge Div 1   3-1.

Staying with my old footballing mate in rural Somerset, we decided to journey over to Street for this Western Lge. fixture. As his wife was driving, we stopped off en route at the superb Halfway house at Pitney for a few pints of the local beer. This set the day up nicely!

The ground at Street is about 15 mins. walk from the town centre, almost out into the country. It has hard standing all round and as you come along the driveway into the arena the totally walled off training ground is the first thing you see - this area makes for a pretty good ground in itself. There are two covered areas, one containing a few tip-up seats, the other just for cover from the elements. A wide concrete section of pathway seperates the pitch from the well appointed clubhouse (also selling real ale and real cider) and the tea bar where hot food was available at reasonable prices.

A computer glitch (where have I heard that excuse before) meant no programme was on sale but we were able to help ourselves to some recent back issues. Actually I think this was just a one-off hiccup as there were programmes for nearly every previous match this season. Anyhow it seems usually one sells for 50p and is a 64 page tome which seemed a bit heavy on adverts to me but is still well produced with a shiny cover portraying the club emblem on the front.

Street comfortably beat their Cornish visitors by 3 goals to 1 and in truth the lightweight Saltash were lucky not to receive a real trouncing as the home side wasted countless chances.

A lovely day out yet again enhanced by having my old pal Bob for company. Amazing to think we have attended hundreds of games of football together yet he never goes to any matches now.

A few more beers rounded off a great weekend.

 21/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Dave Reed - Takeley (EIL)

I was quite near you on Saturday as, with Adrian Swan, I visited Takeley for their Cherry Red Books Trophy game against Met Police Bushey.  In order to check the kick off time we arrived just after twelve to discover players arriving for the one o'clock start.  No time to visit the pub then but the possibility loomed of a second game at Bishop's Stortford, ten minutes drive away if we had a prompt finish.  Fifteen minutes before the start, the helpful lady secretary arrived with the all important programmes, 12 pages for £1, containing line-ups, match reports of the previous rounds and league tables.  A collection was taken round the ground after half-time.

The ground is well worth a visit being totally self-contained with a fully railed off pitch and a small area of cover on one side.  One building contains the changing rooms and a tea bar which was dispensing hot drinks and burgers and hot dogs.

On a bumpy pitch, there was not too much action before half time but the visitors went ahead two minutes into the second half.  Things changed about a quarter of an hour before the end with the introduction of home substitute Flynn Cumming who scored two goals in quick succession to give Takeley the lead.  With eight minutes to go, the visitors equalised to send us into extra time.  No chance of the second game now but it scarcely mattered as the action continued.  The Police soon got a penalty which was saved by the keeper and then Takeley regained the lead.  In the first minute of the second period of extra time, the Police drew level again and that's how it stayed until the end.

The penalty shoot out started with the first two on each side being converted but then the Police missed one.  Everyone else scored and so with the last of the five for each side, up stepped Takeley manager Trevor Gunn to win the game for his side but he blasted the ball high over the bar.  Into sudden death with the visitors scoring and Takeley missing theirs to send the Police through to the semi-finals.

All in all, a thoroughly entertaining excursion at a frendly club.  However, if you are after programmes save your visit for a cup game (probably only the Cherry Red Trophy) as the secretary says that she does not have the time to issue on a regular basis.

 21/02/05 Club/Ground visits: Barry Neighbour - Various

Due to Brentford's continued cup adventures my Non League viewing has suffered with no new Non League grounds this month. However I have seen the following games: Tuesday 1/2/2005 Sandhurst v Chessington & Hook United CCL; 2 late goals rescued a point for the home side in an exciting 3-3 Draw. Normal 20 page issue 50p.  On the Saturday Brentford beat MK Dons 1-0 thanks to a Stephen Hunt penalty. The following day 6/2/2005 I went to Stag Meadow where tenants Slough Town took on Thurrock in the FA Trophy. A scrappy game was won by Slough with a follow up after Thurrock's keeper saved a penalty. The programme sold out nearly an hour before kick off but seemed to be a standard Slough issue of 36 pages priced at £1.50. Although I did not get a copy I did get some back numbers including: Cheshunt 29/1/2005, Eastleigh on Tuesday 14/9/2004, Hendon FA Trophy 3rd Round on 15/1/2005 and Salisbury FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round on Sunday 31/10/2004.  Other back issues obtained included Billericay
 v Slough on Tuesday 21/12/2004 40 pages, £1.50,  Croydon Athletic v Slough FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round on 18/9/2004 40 pages with no price on the cover. Also 2 Moor Green Pre Season Friendlies v Bristol Rovers on 29/7/2004 and v Hummel Korea on 31/7/2004. Both Programmes were 24 Pages selling at £1.50. Tuesday 8th February I was back at Sandhurst for a Premier Cup game against Cobham, won 1-0 by the home side. This saw a reduced programme of 16 pages selling for 50p. The weekend saw a trip North as it was the wife's birthday. Where better than take her to Hartlepool. We split the journey staying in Sheffield overnight this allowed us to take in the opening Rugby League fixture between Sheffield Eagles and Dewsbury Rams won 23-16 by Sheffield. This was my wife's first encounter with the Egg throwers - she quite enjoyed it but prefers football. Sensible girl! A 32 page programme sold for £2 whilst an enamel badge was available at just £1.  Onto the Saturday and my first visit to a packed Victoria Park, Hartlepool where the beloved Bees triumphed by a goal to nil. A 64 page programme sold at £2.50. Wednesday 16th saw a trip to Woking to watch the England National Game XI v Holland Under 23. This was certainly a lot more entertaining than the Seniors on telly a week earlier. England looked impressive as they went into half time 2-0 up. A spate of 2nd half substitutions took the edge off the game in the 2nd half and a late goal clinched a 3-0 victory for England. The game was sponsored by the FA and so admission was free - the only expense being £2 for a 16 page programme. So onto Saturday 19/02/2005 and my first visit to St Marys Stadium Southampton as Brentford pulled back a 2 goal defecit to take the Premier side back to Griffin Park for a replay. It was surreal as I was sitting in the Southampton section and had to keep my mouth shut when the Bees scored, not easy but I let out a big roar once outside the stadium.
A 68 page programme sold for £2.50 and featured different articles about players with Bees/Saints connections which was of interest to both sets of fans. That's it for now, planning on going to AFC Guildford on Wednesday, weather permitting!

 20/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Andy Sneddon - Nefyn United (Gwynedd League)

19th Feb 2005 - Nefyn United 5 v Beaumaris Town 1
Gwynedd League
Admission £1-50
Att: 25
Prog: No (last issued approx 10 years ago).

We've been trying to visit Nefyn for the best part of two years now (mainly as we're running out of grounds to visit in North/Mid Wales at Level 4 and higher) and finally after many frustrations with fixture changes, dodgy weather etc we made it.

In hindsight it was good to wait as the club have recently erected a small but highly effective covered terrace on the West side of the ground which was invaluable on a day like today (temp +4, near gale force winds and hail/sleet showers). 3 steps of terracing with a good roof and sides plus a leaning rail at the front which would comfortably hold 50 people.

The ground is extremely exposed to the North and West on the North Coast of the Lleyn Peninsular and with a raging Northerly wind, today was a good day to discover that they had built cover.

The ground is approximately 3/4 mile West of the village of Nefyn on the B road out towards Pwllheli. The pay box is by at the car park entrance and the princely sum of £1-50 gained you entry to the ground. The teabar/dressing rooms and toilets are to the right of the car par as you come in, with the stand down the near (Western) touchline. The rest of the ground is flat grass standing although on the Eastern side there are some good elevated viewing points where I suspect the original lay of the land has been flattened out to level the pitch. The pitch is in pretty good condition and is surrounded by permanent stakes and advertising hoardings with a rope pulled through round most of the pitch. Tea/Bovril and Crisps were available from the tea bar/committee room behind the goal.

The main impression you get at the ground is the "big sky" effect with endless distant horizons to the North and West (the sea is about 1/2 a mile to the North) and some spectacular and rugged hills to the East and South. It's certainly a dramatic setting for any sporting arena and although the ground has perhaps seen better days (they were in the Welsh Alliance until the mid 90's) it's a venue well worth visiting, especially with the new stand and dugouts in place.

For the record the home side beat a useful Beaumaris Town side 5-1 in front of 25 spectators. The scoreline flattered the hosts somewhat and I suspect Beaumaris would wonder how they went away on the end of such a hammering. Nefyn are still unbeaten at this stage, having won 10 and drawn 6 of their 16 league games played so far. Whether the dropped points will come back to haunt them remains to be seen though and speaking to their Chairman, whether they really want to go back into the Welsh Alliance at this stage is debatable. Having not long since come up from the Caernarfon & District Lge it could be a case of too far too soon and I suspect they may well be quite happy to finish 3rd. They are a happy and friendly bunch though and I sincerely wish them well.

If you like your football in wild and distant locations, Nefyn is a must visit. For me, it was well worth the wait.

 18/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Owen Coupland - Walsall Wood (WMLDiv1cup).

Walsall Wood 1 Darlaston Town 3 WML Div 1 Cup 16.02.05

Despite only living 5 miles from Walsall Wood and driving through it countless times, I'd never stopped off for a game at the Oak Park home of Walsall Wood FC.
 The ground is on the main A461 through Walsall Wood and the entrance is through a gate in the corner of the Oak Park leisure complex. Once in the the ground you can park in a small area behind the near goal. The ground has a stand that looks like it's been there for years; two areas of hard standing and grassy areas at the top end of the ground. There is also a decent social club and a snack bar within the same building which also houses the dressing rooms.
 The club weren't issuing programmes for the cup match against Darlaston but the game was well worth the £2 admission fee. Darlaston or 'Darlo' as their known took the lead early with a free kick that crept in the bottom corner early but Wood equalised with a delightful lob by their talented number nine soon after.
 The game continued in a hugely competitive and entertaining fashion until two late Darlaston goals sealed a 3-1 victory.  Owen Coupland.   

15/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Paul Roth - Walsham Le-Willows (Eastern Counties League 1). Walsham Le Willows  vs. Stanway Rovers: Ridgeons Lge. Div 1  Progamme 50p; Result 3-1.

Walsham chairman Mike Powles kindly telephoned me when I had got as far as the Dartford Tunnel, to let me know the game was on, so I set off up the M11 reaching their Summer lane ground after a lovely morning visiting a few GBG pubs on the way. As I entered the ground through the gap in the trees, I was sold the informative programme(50p) and asked where I had travelled from by the frindly gateman (he seemed amazed I had driven from Kent). In the well appointed clubhouse I was impressed by all the preparations going on around, with the visitors directors being made most welcome.

The pitch covered in sand is surrounded by hard standing on 3 sides, with an old covered stand which housed a few even older benches. Floodlights have recently been erected and were soon in use as the weather worsened. A higly competetive game then ensued with the home side deservedly winning 3-1;  two goals were scored in the last 5 minutes.

This is an old fashioned, rural venue, run by dedicated and enthusiastic people. They deserve to progress which, on the evidence I witnessed, they surely will. I must also commend their catering - fantastic burgers and hot dogs supplied by the local butcher sold for £1.50p and worth every penny !! Another super day out,in the rural idyll that is Suffolk.

14/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Dave Reed - Frome Town (Western League)

I drove fellow Travellers Graham Britton and Ken Kenealy to Frome on Saturday for their Vase game against Brook House.  Getting inside the ground early was an advantage as it allowed us to sit in the back row of the stand and thus avoid the many heavy showers that punctuated the game.  The visitors found it difficult to come to terms with the conditions underfoot which got steadily worse throughout the game.  Their only real chance came after 20 seconds when Ryan Kirkland dallied far too long and missed a golden opportunity.  Thereafter it was all Frome who ran up a three goal lead by half-time and they could have had more.  The second half was something of an anti-climax as, despite kicking down the slope, Brook House never came close to knocking off any of the arrears.  The programme ran to 54 pages for £1 but I am not sure whether this is the normal size issue.  Frome did look quite impressive but against opposition that never really gave them a game, it was difficult to know how good they were.


13/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Andy Sneddon - Fulwood Ams (WLancsPrem)

I arrived at Fleetwood Hesketh's ground 90 mins before KO only to find a ref who couldn't make his mind up. "Hang around til 2-45 and if it stays dry til then we should be OK". Erm thanks, but no thanks. Having driven through countless windswept rain and hail showers on the short trip to Southport the omens weren't good. A quick call to another West Lancs League Premier Division club Fulwood Amateurs confirmed their game as defiantely on so I reversed my tracks and headed back to Preston. (A quick aside here, Fleetwood Hesketh did play and do still issue a decent programme, so may well be worth bearing in mind when the weather's grim. And yes, Fleetwood Hesketh play in Southport for the geographically confused!).


For those who havent been, Fulwood's ground is a slightly unusual affair in that Sunday to Friday it becomes a gold driving range. This does however give virtual full width cover behind one goal which was very welcome on a wild and showery day. Since my last visit some 10 or more years ago they've added a large overhang to the dressing room block down one side and built a tiny cover on the other side with 10 individual plastic seats. Both sides are railed and all four sides have hard standing of one sort or another.


The entrance is through the car park of Preston Grasshoppers RFC (whose ground runs parallel next door) and the princely sum of £1 covers admission and a very neat and presentable 16 page programme. There is a small tea room and bar at the end of the golf driving range bays which served hot drinks and an excellent meat and potato pie.


Real Ale is always available in the club house of the Rugby Club next door. The pitch held up very well indeed and has always been a good "banker" in the area on poor weather days.

For the record the home side beat struggling visitors Bae Barrow (formerly Vickers SC) 3-0, in front of a crowd of 47.


13/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Andy Moden - Match Stats!

Studley Entaco v Coton Green (6/11/4) 1-1 Mid Comb Three Attendance 3 (Three), two of which were travellers, myself and the "Tram". No proggie issued !. Easy to get served in the bar at half-time.
I was at Sporting BTC v BTC Southampton all three presnt were travellers. They gave us a pot of tea that held five or six pints all too ourselves at half-time. Game was 20/11/4. BTC Southampton folded within 48 hours

12/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Mike Latham - Colne (NWCL)

Holt House, Colne is one of most atmospheric and memorable Non League grounds in the country, situated high on the bleak and windy moors overlooking the old mill town in East Lancashire with stunning views of the landscape below. Formerly home to Colne Dynamoes FC, who enjoyed a meteoric rise through the pyramid in the 1980s, capped by an FA Vase Final defeat of Emley in 1989 it is now the home of Colne FC, who earned promotion to the North West Counties First Division in 2003/04. Colne’s bid for a second successive FA Vase quarter-final appearance ended in disappointment when they lost 2-3 to Didcot Town (attendance: 587).


The visitors looked bemused in the first half as they defended up the steep slope and were lucky to go in trailing only 1-0.  The Lancashire weather did its best to throw everything in its repertoire at the Oxfordshire side with dark glowering clouds producing squally rain showers then giving way to bright sunshine while all the time a fierce wind chilled the senses. “They’ll be glad the weather isn’t bad,” said one terrace sage as Didcot warmed up on the rain soaked pitch in a chill factor that would have dimmed the enthusiasm of the most intrepid Antarctic explorer.


Holt House is reached by venturing up the steep hill out of the town and is only a mile or so from the end of the M65 motorway.  Next door the local rugby union club, Colne & Nelson RUFC, base their headquarters while several adjoining pitches host local amateur soccer. Admission was only £4 with a 36-page programme selling for a bargain £1.  There was a well-stocked club shop and a tea bar with extremely pleasant staff did good business, selling delicious and reviving hot pies for £1 and hot drinks for 50p.


The ground is covered on all four sides with Colne’s most vociferous supporters gathering behind the top goal at the rugby club end.  The pitch is tightly enclosed and the views of the action excellent from any vantage point with the spectators so close to the action the atmosphere could be intimidating were not the locals so friendly. A small main stand adjoins the vice-presidents bar on one side and a small lean-to covering is situated on one part of the opposite side with the tea-bar and club shop in the corner. There is open terracing behind the dug-outs opposite the main stand and a covered end behind the lower goal.


A visit to Holt House is a must for any connoisseur of the Non-League scene and highly recommended.  The writer took with him an Australian visitor who was captivated by the atmosphere and views (and the meat and potato pies). “You wouldn’t find this in any Rough Guide to England but it should be,” he said.  “I feel like I’ve experienced England and Lancashire at its raw best.  I’ll certainly remember my visit to Colne for a long, long time.”


06/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Mike Latham - Halkyn Utd (Cymru Alliance) and Chester City (FL2).

Halkyn United’s hopes of further Welsh Cup glory ended when they were defeated 0-4 at home to Caersws at their picturesque Pant Newydd ground before a crowd of around 200. Caersws, second in the Welsh Premier League, were leading 1-0 after Graham Jones’s 27th minute strike before sealing the tie with a three-goal burst in the space of six minutes late in the fourth-round tie. For most of the game Halkyn, who had defeated WPL club Port Talbot in the previous round, gave a fine account of them selves. 

Halkyn is a small village situated just off the A55 that is the major route from Chester to North Wales, about ten miles northwest of Queensferry. The ground is sited on a hillside with spectacular views over the Dee Estuary. A small stand with seats for around 50 and a tiny covered standing area together with the away team dug-out are sited on the south side of the ground- a wooded sloped hillside- and the views from here looking across the water to the Wirral and beyond, make the journey alone worthwhile. On the opposite (north) side the home team dugout is situated.  The rest of the ground is hard standing behind a post and rail fence.  The dressing rooms are situated to the west side of the ground in portakabins with a tea hut and the main entrance also on this side.  The club shares its facilities with a cricket club; the cricket field is located one level down nearer the coast and there is a shared pavilion. Halkyn entered the Cymru Alliance (the northern feeder league to the WPL) in 2000 and are clearly an ambitious and friendly club. Admission was only £3 and a 24-page programme, packed with information, was on sale for £1.


The 2pm kick-off afforded a stop-off at the Saunders Honda Stadium (formerly Deva) Stadium where Chester City earned their first win in seven games with a 3-1 success against Rushden & Diamonds in League Two. A crowd of 2,340 settled comfortably into the tidy stadium that is situated at the end of a road that leads through a retail and business park. First opened in 1992 the ground comprises four almost identical stands and there is little character or individuality to commend it to ground hoppers though those that like to watch their football in a safe, neat and sanitised environment will be happy.  A 40-page programme, containing some good photographs and a particularly good section on the visitors sold for £2.50. Admission to the east and west stands is £15 for adults, with £13 charged for north and south and £10 and £8 respectively for concessions (£6 and £5 for under 16s).


05/02/05 Club/Ground Focus: Wincanton Town (Somerset Senior League 2).

This Saturday brought a trip down to Somerset to see Wincanton Town entertain First Tower United in the Somerset Senior Cup Quarter Final.  Cliff Heath drove myself Martin Hollands, Roland Reeve and Steven Crawley to the match at the Sports Complex in Moor Lane arriving at around noon.  We confirmed the kick-off as 1.45pm with the club and obtain a 12 page programme complete with yellow & Black glossy cover for £1 including the admission.  I believe that Wincanton Town only issue programmes for their bigger games, so it many be worth checking first with them if you are a collector.  First Tower's players were already at the complex and told us that they had flown from Jersey at 7am, with their return journey being on Sunday.


We then headed for the town for a drink and something to eat.  We first visited The Nog Inn, which was ok but rather smoky and then moved on to The Bear Inn  which was a larger pub.  Both pubs served real ale.  We all had a good meal in The Bear Inn and the service was very quick.  Roland had opted for the sausage baguette and when it arrived his sausage was around 12 inches long.  The others had sausages but these very disappointing a lot smaller but plumper but tasty nether the less.  At around 1:15 we headed back to the ground, there had been a rain shower while we had been in the pub, but as it was no longer raining we didn't even think that there would be a problem with the game.  How wrong we were. We then arrived back at the ground to find the players of both teams warming up on the pitch.  It was starting to look unlikely that the game would kick off at 1:45 as the players continued to train.  The grass was very wet under foot as we headed for the stand but the pitch looked ok.  Cliff had commented that the pitch was in fact very heavy and the ball was not bouncing too well.  The players came off just before 2pm as we were taking our places in the stand, which I guess would hold 50 spectators.  We were then informed at around 2:05 that the pitch was unplayable and that the game was being switched to another venue.  It seemed to us and the other hoppers present that a decision could have been made a lot sooner by the match officials, as the earlier shower could not have affected the pitch that badly.


Any way the game had now been switched to South Cheriton FC's ground who play in the Yeovil and District League around 4 miles away.  We wondered what this ground would be like, but made the decision to stick with the game at the new venue.  Obviously had it not been for the fact that the visitors had travelled so far the game it would have simply been called off.  South Cheriton FC play at Vernal Fields, Lower Road, South Cheriton. The pitch was at the bottom of a field and was roped off and the goal nets and corner flags were being put up as we arrived.   The next disaster was about to happen as First Tower United had not arrived at the new venue as their coach battery was now flat.  But thankfully they arrived. The rain came down again.  The game itself was a damp affair. It rained, heavy at times, throughout the whole game.  First Tower United were much to good for their hosts and ran out easy 7-0 winners, with the goals coming in the 13th, 45th, 54th, 55th, 57th, 64th and 71st minutes.  First Tower even had a player sent off after 65 minutes.  Praise should go to all of the players and match officials for allowing the game to take place at all.


At the end of the day despite the fact we were all rather damp throughout the game, we were all thankful that we had seen the game, at a venue we were never likely to visit.


03/02/05 Match Details: Owen Coupland - Heath Hayes (WMLP)

Heath Hayes v Lye - I was going to visit Romulus last night but arriving at the ground I found out it was postponed - should have phoned them up! Luckily I live local and knew Heath Hayes were at home but didn't know the kick off time. I just made it to the wonderfully named Coppice Colliery Ground for 7.30 but the game kicked off at 7.45 - didn't need to huff and puff after all!

There was an 8 page programme for 50p and then I heard a story about Heath Hayes and wasted journeys by two gentlemen close by. Just knew it was the editor of this site and his mate (Old Sloppy)!

The game was keenly fought and ended 2-0 to the home side in the West Midlands League Cup with two identical first half goals enough to defeat a spirited Lye team. Most memorable moment was the little dog that was desperate to follow the players into the changing rooms at half time. Heath Hayes is a well-run and friendly little club and well worth a visit.

Cheers - Owen Coupland, Lichfield, Staffs. Web Editor Many thanks Owen for the great write up. Hope you get to Romulus!


03/02/05 Match Details: Peter Abbot - Great Wyrley (WML1).

On Tues 1 Feb 2005  Great Wyrley 8 Wednesbury Town 0  West Midlands League Div 1  No Programme issued.  Despite the thrashing, reasonable game, WT even whacked the bar in the last minute!