Monday, 28 February 2011

Boston Town v Raunds Town Saturday 26th February 2010 UCL Premier Division

After having kept an eye on the fixtures all morning, my chosen game had a pitch inspection at 11am which was duly passed and so I headed down to Tattershall Road on the A16 through the Lincolnshire countryside.

I arrived at the ground in a very heavy downpour and the car park was full of very large puddles which started me worrying about the game even starting. After 10 minutes or so the downpour abated and I headed into the ground.

The entrance brings you into the ground with the pitch mainly to the right of the entrance. I decide to head to my right, which consists of a wide hard standing are with the Clubhouse and other facilities at the back of it.

Having reached the corner I stepped onto the pitch to take a photo of the corner flag, which has the Club name and the year they were established on it. A very nice touch.

The far side of the ground has a fair bit of development going on and is not yet finished. There is a strip of hard standing running the entire length of this side together with a railing. The first structure you come to is a roofed section supported by wooden beams which give it a unique look. The hard standing under it is rough and ready and some of it is taped off but most importantly it is dry!

Beyond this is a raised set of seating with the roof supports in place but no roof as of yet. Believe it or not, there were no takers for these seats today.

As I reach the corner I meet Pete, who tells me about the new stand being built by the Club members themselves. Pete also tells me about the history of the Club, the pitches either side of the ground, the current problems with the lease and about his lovely wife Pam, (who I will meet later), who seems to run the place. These are the people who enable people like myself attend games and we should be grateful to them all. Here is Pete:

The pitch behind this side of the ground was hosting a Lincolnshire league game Pete informed me, but I failed to get a photo as the officials came over and were talking to Pete and I forgot to take the shot!
I carry on to the end opposite where you enter the ground which has a new section if seats in an older stand which gives a great contrast and a bit of character.

There is hard standing leading to the stand and the trees which can be seen behind this stand and indeed all around this side of the ground belong to the Witham Way Country Park, the entrance to which is next to the ground.

Here is a close up view of the seats.

The next side of the ground has a large covered terrace running most of it's length and the dug outs are situated in front of the stand.

This consists of hard standing, then a wide step up and a final step, at which level the finish is wood, very unusual.

Behind this stand there is another pitch and it was here that the two teams warmed up before the game, saving the pitch from unnecessary wear and tear.

This brings you back to the corner near to where we came in and the dressing rooms are situated here.

I see Pete heading towards me and he introduces his companion as Simon Ashberry whose book on the history of Boston, "Come and sit with us", I'd asked him about. I arranged with Simon for him to send one to me and had a chat about his other team Bradford City (where he is based). I shall look forward to reading the book.
So to the game. By kick off the wind and rain had returned as you can see from the picture below.

The weather worsened within seconds of the picture above and now there was hail mixed in with the rain. The dugouts emptied into the stand and even at the very back we were still getting wet as the strong wind blew it under the cover. After two minutes the referee signalled for the players to leave the pitch. Almost as quick as it blew up, the weather calmed off. This enabled the game to resume but although the pitch was playable it was very muddy. Both sides made a good effort considering to try and play passing football and this made for an entertaining game. Boston were on top and had some good chances but Raunds looked capable of scoring on the break.

Boston started to take a real grip on the game and looked more and more likely to score. However some good saves from the Raunds keeper kept the game scoreless. But there was nothing he could do on 35 minutes when a good cross from Parker was met by Borbely who headed home.

Raunds struggled to contain Boston for the next five minutes but withstood the onslaught to actually go forward themselves but with no real end result.

The half time whistle blew with Boston leading 1-0 and I headed off for a cuppa. When I get there Pete is there and introduces me to Pam who modestly denies she runs everything. Pete very kindly bought me my hot drink, which was extremely kind of him and I'd just like to thank him for the gesture again. Here's Pam:

The sun was actually shining at this point and I decided to take my drink to the seats at the other end of the ground. As I went to sit down the heavens opened again and the Raunds subs who had been warming up in the goal quickly joined us in the stand. It can only be described as a squall as the wind picked up again and hale and rain battered Tattershall Road. A couple of the subs made a dash to the side stand and you can see the conditions for yourselves.

The start to the second half was delayed to wait for the squall to blow over which it eventually did. Boston came out first and their keeper was not impressed with what he found in the goal that I was sat behind.

The referee came out to inspect the pitch but it seemed pretty certain that I would see no more football today. After five minutes and plenty of discussion the match was abandoned. I made my way towards the exit taking a couple of more shots of the pitch and technical areas.

So, a disappointing end to my visit to Tattershall Road, but it was still one of my most enjoyable days out this season. A smashing ground, very quirky and individual. A really friendly greeting from the Club from the gate to the groundsman. A very big thank you to Pete especially who made the day special and also to Pam and Simon, both of whom were a pleasure to meet. I think I'll be back for the re-arranged game.

More pictures of Tattershall Road here.

There are pictures of the ground, action and the fans here.

Boston Town A-A Raunds Town
(1-0 to Boston; abandoned at half time)
Admission: £5
Programme: £1

Monday, 14 February 2011

Hemsworth Miners Welfare v Barton Town Old Boys Saturday 12th February 2011 NCEL Division One

A late change of venue for today saw me heading for the Fitzwilliam Stadium for the clash between Hemsworth, nicknamed the Wells, and Barton. The ground is situated well off the main road through Fitzwilliam but Google maps came to my rescue again and as I had a good idea of the layout of the area I had no difficulty finding it.

There is a cricket pitch before you reach the ground and a car park is situated behind the Clubhouse of the football club. The entrance to the ground is situated to the right end of the car park.

The entrance brings you into the ground about a third of the way down from the right hand goal. The Clubhouse containing the dressing rooms, bar, tea bar is to the left. To the right there is a portacabin which is used for hospitality and also has a hatch at the entrance end selling programmes.

I head off to the right to make my way around the ground. This is the view of that end from just past the half way line.

Behind the goal there is a narrow strip of hard standing with a well maintained grassy area and hedge behind that with a white railing running the length of the end.

The other side of the ground to where you come in has a wider strip of hard standing with a breeze block wall and a netting system to keep the ball in the ground.

On this side you will also find the impressive dug outs.

You have to go round the back of this structure to carry on round the ground and this then brings you to the seated stand.

There are three floodlight pylons down this side and after the seating stand there is more hard standing and grassy area to the corner. This is the view looking back from the corner.

This end has hard standing and a larger grassy area with a panel fencing behind this.

This is another view of the seated stand and dugouts side of the ground from this end.

This then brings you back to the Clubhouse side of the ground and this is the view from the corner looking towards the bar end of the Clubhouse.

So to the game. Now, I have a confession to make. I arrived a lot later than I normally do for a game and my picture taking distracted me from the teams warming up. I positioned myself for some action photos as the game kicked off. So this is my excuse for totally mixing the two teams up for the first few minutes of the game. It was only after I'd taken a few shots, and I looked at the "Barton" defence I realised I did not recognise anyone. A quick look round soon established who was who. Whoops!

Barton dominated the opening spell of the game and had several chances to take the lead. After about 15 minutes Wells started to find their feet on the heavy pitch and created a couple of chances themselves which were wasted. On 22 minutes the Gareth Barlow show started. He picked the ball up on the left edge of the box and curled a great shot into the right hand corner of the goal. 1-0 to Barton, which on the balance of play they deserved.

Wells almost equalised when a good cross from Eastwood was met by Lee Dawson who put his header straight at the keeper. The pitch was proving difficult to play on and the game was fairly scrappy for the rest of the half with no further goals.

The second half started with Wells having a better start than the first half and they had a shot which hit the post. Barton's second goal came on 66 minutes. Mark Griffin played in Barlow who took one touch before firing home. On 73 minutes Walstow could only parry Northen's shot and Barlow pounced on the loose ball to fire in from close range and complete his hat trick.

Wells pulled back a goal from the penalty spot on 85 minutes after Hayward was fouled and John Impey scored an excellent penalty. The Wells players and coaches had been unhappy with the officials all afternoon and this eventually flared up. One of the Barton coaches stopped a Wells player from taking a throw in and in the melee that followed Wells' Haywood receiving a second yellow. However it was Barlow who was to the final say. In the 90th minute Phil Jackman picked out the unmarked Barlow who scored at the second attempt to take his tally to four for the afternoon.
A decent game despite the heavy pitch and on the day Barton thoroughly deserved the win.

More pictures of The Fitzwilliam Stadium here.

Hemsworth Miners Welfare 1-4 Barton Town Old Boys
Att: 70
Admission: £4
Programme: £1.50

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Goole AFC V Sheffield Saturday 5th February 2011 Evo-Stik Division One South

I've been to The Victoria Pleasure Ground before for a pre-season friendly and before I had a digital camera, so I've wanted to revisit to get some better photos. The weather was a lot greyer than the hot summers day of my previous visit and it was to get worse as the day progressed.

There is plenty of street parking around the ground and I am able to park virtually outside the turnstiles, which was especially handy after the game in the heavy rain that was falling.

The turnstiles bring you into the ground with the tea hut, Club shop and toilets to your left. In front of you the main stand with a terraced area and seats is in front of you. The pitch is to the right with another covered terrace opposite the main stand and a running track all the way around the ground.

I decide to go clockwise around the ground and so I head towards the main stand which is made up of a fairly large covered terrace and two lots of seating situated either side of the tunnel. The terraced area is arrived at first and is a good size with crush barriers situated at the front and halfway up.

After this is the first lot of seating with two rows of plastic tip up seats and three rows of bench type seats.

This is separated from the other seating by what looked like the board room or hospitality lounge and a metal cage for the players tunnel which has a removable section to allow you access around the ground.

There were also some interesting seats at the front of the stand which as I looked at them, made me wonder if they were used when the action on the pitch was just too awful to watch!

There was the next block of seating after this with a press box at the rear of it.

This was the end of the main stand but just after this was a small four step terrace with a crush barrier on the first level.

There was also an old section of terracing just after this which had obviously been replaced by the new section in the photo above.

The hard standing runs a lot further than the pitch in order to go around the running track and there is only a thin strip of hard standing running around the curve of this end.

I take another shot back to where I have come from.

At this point I decide to change my lens but as I have my hands full my mobile starts to ring, but I'm unable to get to it in time before it rings off. I check to see who it was and realise it is Uwdi from the brilliant "Where's The Tea Hut" blog who I saw was going to come here today and so I contacted him to see if he wanted to meet up after our near miss at Stockbridge. However it was to be a bit longer before we actually meet as his phone kept going straight to his voice mail; in the tea hut I reckoned!
I carry on to the side opposite the main stand where there is a decent sized five step covered terrace with a small bench situated at the back of one section. I venture onto the running track to get a picture of the welcome sign I used earlier in the blog. This is the picture from the running track of the stand.

I eventually get hold of Uwdi and head off to meet him in the main stand terracing. Just time for a shot looking back at this stand.

I take another shot from behind the goal of the main stand terracing and you can actually see Uwdi and Frugal Glenn on the terracing.

I finally reached Uwdi and Glenn and I have to say it was a pleasure to meet them and spend the match with them. I also ran into Chris, a Grimsby fan I'd met at Rossington last season and it was nice to see him again too.

So to the game. What a strange match it was too. The rain was coming down hard by kick off and I'm not sure if this was the reason for the poor start by both teams, but after 40 minutes it did not look promising for any goals.

But this all changed on 43 minutes and we went into the half time break with Goole leading 2-1. Goals from Allott and Harrison put TheVikings 2-0 up and Sheffield looked dead and buried even at this stage having lost their keeper and having to put outfield player Roney in goal as they had no keeper on the bench. However they were given a lifeline when Ruddiforth skillfully controlled the ball on the six yard line before back heeling it into the net.

On 49 minutes it was 2-2. Sheffield's Banks let fly from over 30 yards out and the ball hit the top corner. Incredibly, Sheffield took the lead on 77 minutes from the penalty spot by Cusworth after Purkiss was brought down in the box.

Goole did not test the stand-in keeper until late in the game and he proved equal to the free kick, tipping it round the post at full stretch. Sheffield scored a fourth on 88 minutes when Purkiss slipped the ball to Gregory who fired past Walker in the Goole goal. But they were not finished yet and a great run down the left by Gregory enabled him to put a deep cross to the far post where it was met by Cusworth who put a great header back across the goal into the net to make it 5-2. A remarkable comeback by Sheffield and a very disappointing result for Goole.

You can read "Where's The Tea Hut"'s report here.

More pictures of The Victoria Pleasure Ground here.

Goole AFC 2-5 Sheffield
Att: 189
Admission: £7