Saturday, 30 April 2011

Gainsborough Trinity v Alfreton Town Monday 25th April 2011 Blue Square Bet North

I wanted to stay fairly local over the Bank Holiday weekend, so on Saturday I had gone to Barton where it was nice to meet up with John, a hopper from York who I had first met at Brodsworth a couple of seasons back. I decided on a return visit to Gainsborough Trinity for today's game, a venue I've been to several times over the years but I'd never taken any pictures of. Today's visitors were Alfreton who had sealed the Championship on Saturday.
I am able to park up within sight of Northolme and had a very short walk to the ground.

I make my way around the outside of the ground and there are a good number of visiting fans about. There is a very smart sign advertising today's game at the corner of the ground at the apex of the roads there.

There are no turnstiles open at this side of the ground and so I carry on around the outside until I reach the far corner where I eventually find the turnstiles open.

The entrance brings you into the ground in the corner with a long covered terrace directly in front of you with another covered terrace to your left which is behind the goal. There is a tea hut in this corner too but I head off to my left to go on my journey around the ground. The covered terrace has smart blue crush barriers running the whole length and gives you a good view of the action.

As you reach the corner there is the Club shop and some open terracing to the corner. As you turn onto the side of the ground there are a couple of buildings, one of which is another bar, but is not open today, and another seems to be a hospitality unit. This then leads to the Main Stand which has two levels of seating and is an impressive looking stand.

The dugouts are situated either side of the stand and the ground opens out after it with a toilet block and another turnstile block.

There is a small terraced area before you reach the corner of this side of the ground with more blue crush barriers. The opposite end to where I came in is a large uncovered terrace which I always think looks really impressive and reminds me of how grounds looked when I first started going to games.

I really like this terrace and I do not apologise for putting a second picture of it on here.

This brings me back to the opposite end of the covered terrace that faced me as I entered the ground. It has a wide walkway along the bottom, with the ubiquitous blue barrier running it's length with a five step covered terrace beyond this. Once again it gives a good view of the action and is most impressive.

The back of the Supporter's Club bar, toilets and as I've already mentioned, the tea hut are found at the end of this stand. It also gives you a good view of the Main Stand across the pitch. There are four floodlight pylons in each corner with two more situated on either side of the half way line on both sides of the ground. Proper floodlights, not seen so often at modern grounds!

The game kicks off in glorious sunshine with Alfreton making eight changes from the side that won on Saturday, but there are still a few well known faces amongst their team, including Daryl Clare. Trinity start the game well but are unable to create many clear cut chances.

Alfreton break the deadlock on 26 minutes when Anthony Wilson scores with a spectacular overhead kick which I nearly caught in the photo below. Pity the ball is not in the shot!

Trinity huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser but found the Alfreton defence hard to beat. Wilson scored his second goal on 42 minutes with a good header from a corner by Ian Ross.
This was the half time score and to be honest it was game over for me as Trinity did not look they would get a goal. They began the second half in similar fashion to the first but again could not find a way past the resolute Alfreton defence.

Jake Moult added a third for Alfreton on 65 minutes to seal the victory, again following good play from a corner. The game saw more chances for both teams but there was no further score and Alfreton ran out comfortable winners of the game.
Northolme is a lovely ground to watch football at and if you have the chance, go, but I cannot guarantee the same glorious weather that I enjoyed.

There was a sad postscript to the game. I'd been talking to an Alfreton fan during the first half and he expalined why the travelling support was a bit muted,something which I'd noted, especially as they had just won the title. An Alfreton fan had collapsed before the game in a local pub and was well known amongst their support and so there was an air of concern for him. Sadly I later read on the Alfreton site, that supporter Graham Jones died. Sincere condolences are sent to all Graham's family and friends. RIP.

More pictures of Northolme here.

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

Gainsborough Trinity 0-3 Alfreton Town
Att: 474
Admission: £10
Programme: £2

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Ryton v Billingham Synthonia Saturday 9th April 2011 Northern League Division One

I arrive at Ryton's Kingsley Park ground in plenty of time for kick off although I miss my second entrance to a ground today. At least I'm consistent!

There is a Clubhouse in front of you as you head towards the turnstile and behind this there is an impressive Astroturf Pitch which the Club hires out. The turnstiles bring you into the ground nearly level with the half way line. The first thing you notice is that you are above the level of the pitch. To your right is a terraced area of the Clubhouse which is already in good use with supporters of Billingham. All the facilities are in the Clubhouse building.

To the right of the entrance on this side are the "bus Shelters". There are five of these painted in the Club colours of black and blue and vary in size.

Just past the shelters is the tea hut from which I later have a superb burger and which also runs out of food before half time! After this there is a tarmacked slope down to the end of the ground which houses the seated stand. There is also a single row of seats before this stand, very unusual.

At this corner you can see the different levels of the ground and below the shelter level there is a hard standing area with a rail running along the length of the pitch only interrupted by the dugouts. There is a wall which also runs the length of the pitch and this area looks really smart.

As I said, this end has the seated stand situated there directly behind the goal. There is a covered section which looks like the seats have been added to with an unusual steel framework. There is also a net in front of the whole seating section to stop wayward balls.

The hard standing and railing continues after the stand down to the corner and one thing that is noticeable as I make my around the ground is how tidy and well kept the ground is. All the grass areas have been cut and it makes the ground look really good. The far side of the ground has two covered standing areas, with the larger one sited more or less level with the penalty box of the goal at this end and the other astride the half way line.

There is a strip of hard standing running the whole length of the pitch together with the white railing. There are three floodlight pylons at intervals along this side too.

I carry on to the other end of the ground where the hard standing, white rail combo is in place.

This returns you to the Club house side of the ground with a narrow path and wall back towards the dugouts and Clubhouse steps.

So to the game. Ryton have only won once this season, way back in August and have only picked up two points at home this season. Their problems arose when promised sponsorship money failed to arrive and after the management were dismissed all but one of the players left. So I have to be honest and admit that I was expecting a Billingham win. However, that script was soon torn up when Ryton's Chris McCabe fired home after 12 minutes.

The Synners had a couple of attacks before they equalised on 25 minutes when a good cross from the right was met by James Macgowan who put his header back across the goal and into the corner of the net. Both teams continued to have chances and this was developing into an evenly contested game with plenty of chances.

The start to the second half was simply sensational with Ryton coming out with real determination. On 49 minutes they retook the lead when Robert Frame scored at the second attempt. Two minutes later it was 3-1. Chris McCabe collected the ball, cut inside and finished well. Ryton were now on top and playing with confidence. On 63 minutes a shot from Liam Hudson was saved by the Synners keeper but the loose ball ran to Chris McCabe who shot and scored to complete his hat trick. Billingham tried to get back into the game and had several chances but Ryton's defence kept them at bay with a combination of resolute defending and some luck.

Amazingly it was Ryton who scored the next goal on 79 minutes when young striker Dan Wilson found himself in space inside the box and calmly slotted the ball past the keeper. 5-1! This was not what I had expected. But the game was not finished yet. Billingham, to their credit, went forward again eventually reducing the deficit on 87 minutes when James Macgowan who put his header past the Ryton keeper. Incredibly, a minute later it was 5-3 as Macgowan completed his hat trick with yet another header. Ryton were under the cosh for the remaining time but were able to hold out for a fantastic win which was met with a terrific cheer when the final whistle was blown.

Ryton is a nice ground and combined with seeing their first home win of the season made it a great visit.

More pictures of Kingsley Park here.

Ryton 5-3 Billingham Synthonia
Att: 103
Admission: £5
Programme: £1

Monday, 11 April 2011

Whickham v Washington Saturday 9th April 2011 Northern League Division Two

It's Northern League Day and so I head off up the A1 to to the frozen wastes of the north east. Except it's sunny and the whole day is blessed with sunshine! The first game of the day is at The Glebe Sports Ground, home to Whickham, winners of the FA Vase in 1981. The satnav takes me to the ground with no fuss, except I miss the turn into the car park! A quick u-turn and I'm parked up. It's just a little walk from here to the turnstile.

Going into the ground you have the Social Club to your left, the only stand and other facilities to your right and the pitch's touchline length ways in front of you with the cricket pitch to the left of this. I turn to my right to take a look at the stand.

The Club name is picked out on the front of it in big bold letters. The "seats" in the stand are actually benches and they look absolutely brilliant. Highly varnished with the numbers of the seat picked out in white paint on them.

I have a quick chat to a Whitley Bay fan who is here before going on to their game later on. Just after the stand there is a hospitality building and further on is the tea hut with it's own sign.

This brings you to the corner of the ground and there is a thin strip of hard standing behind the railings with a further area of grass running to the boundary fence. The dugouts are also situated on this side of the ground.

There are four very tall floodlight pylons, one in each corner and it was one of these that I got my first view when approaching the ground.

I reach the end opposite the end I came in and when you get here you can see the slope.

From the top corner you can see the hospitality room and the cafe.

As I mentioned, this side of the ground is next to the cricket club pitch and there is only a railing running the full length of the pitch but no hard standing as this would interfere with the cricket pitch. It is also on this side of the ground that the majority of the crowd stand for the game with the sun at their backs.

The game kicks off in glorious sunshine and I'm not sure if this has an influence on the game but it is pretty dour. Whickham waste a couple of early chances with Washington on the back foot early on. A little way into the game a locals asks me if I'm with the groundhoppers and we get talking. Jim is his name and he turns out to be an absolute gentleman. We spend the half happily chatting about all things football as we watch the game.

The only goal of the half comes when a Washington bundles the ball into his own net under pressure from a Whickham forward. Half time arrives with no further score and I head off to the Corner Flag Cafe for a coffee. Jim then buys me my coffee which was very kind of him. He tells a few of his mates in there I've come up from Cleethorpes and there are also 5 hoppers from Nottingham in there too and we all have a good chat about the day.

To be honest the second half is not much better than the first but the time flies past in the company of Jim. Chances are few and far between and Whickham do not build upon their lead. To be fair, Washington do play better this half but also struggle to create too many chances.

Washington equalised when they attacked down the right and when the ball was played across the entire Whickham defence had disappeared leaving Brett Turner to turn the ball home unchallenged. The game petered out and it never looked likely that the score would change. Indeed, 1-1 was the final score. I bid farewell to Jim, a pleasure to meet you. Unlike my previous double at Northwich/Witton there is no desperate rush to get to Ryton and so I'm able to take my time leaving.
This has been a good start to the day and whilst the game may not have been the best, it's a smashing ground and the welcome as always in the Northern League, was very friendly.

More picture of the Glebe Sports Ground here.

Whickham 1-1 Washington
Att: 106
Admission: £4
Programme: £1.00

Monday, 4 April 2011

Northern League Day 9th April 2011

Ok, I've mentioned it before, but I'd just like to remind you that this event is this coming Saturday. The guys behind the day have persuaded two teams to get up early on Saturday morning and so Whickham v Washington is an 11.30am kick off, giving you the opportunity of a double on the day. I've replicated the idea behind the day below, so I hope some of you might be able to support the day. See you there.

"Inspired by the nationwide success of last September’s Non-League Day, the first ever Northern League Day will take place at the traditional kick-off time of 3 o’clock on Saturday 9th April 2011.

With Middlesbrough at Sheffield United and Newcastle United playing in the lunchtime televised fixture away at Aston Villa the following day, we hope as many fans as possible will turn out to support their local non-league football teams.


We’ll be at Ryton (bottom of Division One at the time of writing with three points from thirty games and a goal difference of minus one hundred and three). After promised sponsorship money failed to materialise in the summer, Ryton had to sack their management team and every single player except one followed them out of the club. £5 of your money here would go a very long way. They play Billingham Synthonia, where Brian Clough started his career and perhaps the only club in world football to be named after an agricultural fertiliser. The nearest train station to Ryton is Wylam (15 minutes from Central Station), home of the famous Boathouse Inn. Remember when you could enjoy a Saturday afternoon out with your mates, watch a game of football and have a couple of beers for a tenner? You still can."

There is more information at the website set up for the day here.