Saturday 19th December: Renfrew

IMG_3960 (2)Saturday 19th December 2015
Renfrew 4 Thorniewood United 2
McBookie West of Scotland League Central Division One
Attendance 165 (headcount)

The story of my trip to RENFREW FC on Saturday 19th December began in early October. Well before the West of Scotland League fixtures for that day were revealed, I booked a bargain £27 return ticket from Stafford to Glasgow Central, a real saving considering the on-the-day price would have been a massive £112.50. The cut-price deal committed me to leave Stafford on the 07.34 Virgin Pendolino and return the same day on the 18.40 departure from Glasgow. No problem with that as the seven or so hours in Glasgow fitted perfectly with a match and a visit the city’s Christmas Bavarian Market. I opted to visit Renfrew’s brand new New Western Park ground and saw them go top of Central Division One with a 4-2 victory over Thorniewood United, attendance 165 (my headcount).

The new ground, on Argyll Avenue off Inchinnan Road at the entrance to Renfrew Retail Park, is less than a mile from the old ground. Built on the site of a former Comet store, it is a neat and tidy venue with a 3G pitch, small stand and a clubhouse incorporating an excellent ‘Snacks & Drinks’ bar. Spectators only have access to two sides of the pitch; behind the near goal where the club buildings are located and down the left-hand side, which includes the stand. I walked there and back from Paisley Gilmour Street station though the 101 bus would have saved a hefty three-mile walk in each direction. At least I got to see the old ground, which has yet to be redeveloped, and also the exterior of the impressive Town Hall.

Warmly welcomed at the entrance to the ground, I had a chat with Stewart Davidson, who produces the annual Scottish Non League Review as well as filling the role of Renfrew’s programme editor. For this game with Thorniewood, an impressive 24-page publication was on sale for £1 containing plenty to read. Line-ups were written on a whiteboard which saved a ‘statto’ like me from seeking the teamsheets.

I enjoyed the game which had a few twists, turns and surprises. Renfrew took the lead on the half-hour, arguably against the run of play, and scored another five minutes later to go in 2-0 up at half time. Amongst the crowd of around 165 were a few visiting fans from Thorniewood decked in red and black scarves and they saw their side get back on level terms with goals in the 55th and 74th minutes. However, Renfrew regained the lead in the 85th minute and secured top spot in the table with a fourth goal scored in stoppage time to earn a 4-2 win.

Wednesday 26th August 2015: Maplas

Wednesday 26th August 2015
Malpas 2 Crewe FC 2
Hallmark Security Cheshire League Premier Division
Admission £3 including eight-page programme
Attendance 60 (headcount)

The prospect of seeing Stafford Rangers legend Robin Gibson play for Crewe FC tempted me out on a Wednesday evening. Gibson, as I found out from the Crewe Secretary, doesn’t usually play in away games but the lack of his presence didn’t spoil what turned out to be a super trip to the Malpas and no doubt my forthcoming write-up in The Football Traveller will tempt others to this part of south Cheshire.

Malpas gained promotion to the Cheshire League Premier Division at the end of last season and during the summer they replaced a former area of cover with a new 58-seater stand. Programmes have also been reintroduced this season as well. The ground has great views to the west, all the way to the hills the other side of Wrexham.

Ian Carr gave Crewe an 11th minute lead which was cancelled out by Alex Hughes’ 37th minute equaliser for Malpas. The second half, in contrast to the opening 45 minutes, tested the skills of the match officials starting with a hotly-disputed penalty on the hour which Nathan Southern converted to put Crewe 2-1 up. A stiff challenge by Lee Smith in the 67th minute led a bout of ‘pushing and shoving’ followed by a straight red card for the Malpas no. 11. Malpas thought they’d equalised in the 83rd minute when Chris Bevan’s header hit the bar and bounced down on to the line. A review to ‘DRS’ may well have led to a goal being awarded. Eventually, in the 89th minute, a goalmouth scramble led to Malpas substitute Andrew Morris firing home the equaliser which, I think, the home side deserved.

Malpas are very much a club on the up with long-term ambitions of bringing NWCL football to the village. As well as programmes, two different designs of pin badge were on sale at the bar, priced at £3 each.

If you do visit Malpas, arrive early and explore this picturesque village with a stone cross and a significant number of listed buildings. Super evening.

Saturday 22nd August 2015: Underwood Villa

Saturday 22nd August 2015
Underwood Villa 1 Bingham Town 0
Precision Notts Senior League Premier Division
Attendance 21 (headcount)
Programme £1 (16 pages)

The Precision Notts Senior League Premier Division was the focus of my attention on Saturday 22nd August. FC Cavaliers have been a bit nomadic since leaving a ground off Mapperley Hall Drive in Nottingham, where I saw them play a few years ago. This season they are based at the Forest Recreation Ground and their home game with Unity appealed but news of an expected 80,000 people attending the adjacent Nottingham Caribbean Festival prompted a change of plan.

Instead, I met up with Peter Ford at UNDERWOOD VILLA, who were hosting Bingham Town in their fourth game since promotion to the Premier Division. The village of Underwood is located a few miles south-west of M1 junction 27 and their tree-lined Bracken Park ground on Felley Mill Lane is fully railed off though without any football furniture other than permanent dugouts. A smart new modern clubhouse has been constructed to replace the building visible on Google Streetview.

In a quirk of the fixtures, Underwood played at Bingham in a league game on Saturday 15th August, the same day I was at Sileby, and lost 7-1. The return fixture turned out to be a lot tighter and Underwood bounced back from that heavy defeat to record a 1-0 win thanks to a second-half headed goal scored by Nicklaus Thorpe, attendance 21 (headcount).

Saturday 15th August 2015: Sileby Town

Saturday 15th August 2015
Sileby Town 2 Saffron Dynamo 2
Leicestershire Senior League Premier Division
Attendance: 90 (headcount)
Admission by raffle ticket: £2 no programme

Premier Division champions SILEBY TOWN moved home during the summer and are now happily relocated on the northern edge of the Leicestershire village. Found on Southfield Avenue, the pitch is railed off apart from the area around the dugouts with currently no cover or hand-standing, though a perfect venue to develop into a step 6 ground. It also has an impressive clubhouse/changing rooms building which includes a bar and kitchen serving hot drinks and food.

Opponents for the inaugural league fixture I saw, played on Saturday 15th August, were Saffron Dynamos and it was the visitors’ forward Adam Parry who headed home the first goal in the 7th minute. Watched by a crowd of around 90, Sileby quickly got back on level terms three minutes later through Mark Tinsley. It was certainly a tight contest and Sileby edged in front during first-half stoppage time when Dan Jelly forced the ball home from a corner.

Thankfully, traditional substitutions were used and Saffron took home a point from a 2-2 draw after Parry scored his second goal in the 74th minute from the penalty spot.

The ground is around 20 minutes walk from the railway station. From the platforms, turn right at the bottom of the steps into King Street and continue to the roundabout. Take the second exit to go straight on into what becomes Seagrave Road at the next junction and basically keep going in the same direction uphill. Continue on Seagrave Road passing the roundabout into Jubilee Avenue until a new housing development. Turn left into Southfield Avenue and then right into the car park.

From the moment I arrived it was abundantly clear that the warm welcome I received at Sileby’s old ground back in April has been well and truly transferred to their new home.

Birtstall United grabbed the opening-day headlines with a 13-0 victory over Caterpillar.


Tuesday 8th July 2014
Buxton 0 Altrincham 1
Pre-season Friendly
At: Silverlands
Kick-off 7-15 pm
Admission: £6; Programmes: none; Teamsheet: free
Weather: warm and sunny

p20140708aTonight’s friendly caught my eye as it provided an opportunity to revisit a favourite ground and drive along the iconic Leek to Buxton road past the famous Roaches. It pitted Conference National newboys Altrincham visiting a Buxton side which finished last season in 13th position in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division.

The match, one of those slowburners that got better the longer it went on, was settled by a solitary goal in favour of Alltrincham, scored midway through the second half by substitute Damien Reeves.

I’ve never compiled a top 10, top 25 or even a top 100 list of grounds I have had the pleasure to visit. Prime candidate for worthy consideration for the top 10 is Buxton’s Silverlands ground, visited for the third time this evening.

I remember my first visit to Silverlands well, one as a final-year student at what was known as Sheffield City Poly for a midweek game on Tuesday 9th October 1984 in the Northern Premier League between Buxton and Stafford Rangers. A single goal from Chris Arnot gave Stafford a 1-0 that dark evening before returning by train which involved walking between New Mills Newton and New Mills Central stations to catch the late-night train back to Sheffield.

Six years ago, I returned to Buxton for a pre-season friendly against Shrewsbury Town – daylight rather than black night – and fell in love with the place! Such a picture on a sunny summer evening, the ground boasts an interesting 600-seater 50-year-old stand, cover on two of the three other sides and views to the south of the surrounding Peak District.

Teamsheets were plentiful inside the entrance and a couple of names stood out in the Altrincham side. Top of the list Dave Parton moved from Newcastle Town to Moss Lane during the summer while I recalled Jake Moult has a spell with Stafford Rangers a few years ago.

Buxton got the game underway attacking the covered Railway End in the first half. To confuse any latecomers, Buxton wore red instead of their more familiar yellow and blue while visitors Altrincham took to the field in yellow shirts.

Plenty of passing, attacking and honest endeavour during the first half though both goalkeepers were called upon to only make one decent save each. Adam Reid, once of Altrincham, produced a top-drawer save to turn round Nicky Clee’s 25-yard free-kick that seemed destined for the top-left corner. As the interval approached, Parton saved and held a low drive from Liam Hardy.

I spent the early part of the second half sitting in the stand, noticing in a notable increase in tempo and also the view to the ground. A distinctive rocky outcrop caught my eye.

Ryan Crowther saw a couple of deflected shots fly wide of the target despite wrong-footing Reid during the opening quarter hour of an increasing absorbing contest.

Varying my vantage point, I ended up in the right place at the right time to see the game’s only goal. It came midway through the second half and very much a classic centre-forward’s goal. James Lawrie crossed from the right and half-time replacement Damien Reeves powered a first-time header past Reid.

Despite substitutions made at various times during the second half – thankfully changes that the announcer and crowd could keep track of rather than of the ‘rolling’ variety like at Audley last Friday – the overall quality of the second 45 minutes hardly diminished.

Before heading back home, I popped into the Cask Marque accredited Railway Inn – four cask ales on offer and I opted for the appropriately named Railway Ale. The thing I’ll remember is leaving the car just after Germany scored their second goal against Brazil and walking into the pub a couple of minutes later to find the score had moved on astonishingly to 4-0!

While I’m not advocating sidestepping Silverlands to miss an entirely floodlight game, the ground is one to be savoured in daylight whatever the time of year.

Buxton (red/red/red) 1. Adam Reid, 2. Alex Byrne, 3. Jamie Green, 4. Steve Istead (capt), 5. Ash Palmer, 6. Greg Young, 7. Alastair Taylor, 8. Jonathan Williams, 9. Ben Hutchinson, 10. Liam Hardy, 11. Craig King. Subs: 12, Tim Ryan, 14. Neil Stevens, 15. Derek Niven, 16. Aaron Amesbury, 17 Stockton.

Altrincham (yellow/grey/yellow): 1. Dave Parton, 2. David Brown, 3. Adam Griffin, 4. Jake Moult, 5. Scott Leather, 6. Mike Williams (capt), 7. Simon Richman, 8. Greg Wilkinson, 9. Kyle Perry, 10. Ryan Crowther, 11. Nicky Clee. Subs: 12. Shaun Densmore, 14. Sean Williams, 15. James Lawrie, 16. Damian Reeves, 17. Tom Clarke, 18. Josh Samberg, 19. Max Pouncey.

Referee: Tim Walker (Belper).
Assistants: Steve Thompson (Chapel) and Terry Ratcliffe (Belper)

Attendance: 175 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 45:52; second-half: 45:00

0-1 Damien Reeves (68)

Cards: none


Saturday 24th May 2014
Ukraine Under-19 0 Scotland Under-19 0
UEFA U19s Championship Elite Group Round Group A
At Pirelli Stadium, Burton
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: £2-50 (36 pages); Teamsheet: free
Attendance: 198
Weather: showers

Ukraine (blue/blue/blue): 1. Roman Pidkivka (GK), 2. Taras Kacharaba, 3. Pavlo Lukyanchuk, 4. Pavlo Polehenko, 5. Yuriy Tkachuk, 6. Vyacheslav Tankovskiy, 7. Evgen Chumak, 9. Artem Radchenko, 11. Roman Yaremchuk, 14. Maxym Banasevich, 19. Ihor Kharatin (capt). Subs: 12gk. Bogdan Sarnavskiy (not used), 8. Artem Gabelok (for Tankovskiy, 90+2), 10. Dmytro Bilonog (not used), 15. Artem Biesiedin (for Yaremchuk, 60), 16. Andriy Markovych (not used), 17. Viktor Kovalenko (for Chumak, 60). Coach: Oleksandr Petrakov.

Scotland (white with yellow hoops and fuchsia top hoop /white / white): 1. Ryan Fulton, 2. Ryan Sinnamon, 3. John Souttar, 4. Scott McKenna, 8. Jamie Lindsay, 9. Denny Johnstone, 10. Liam Henderson, 11. Ryan Gauld, 14. Dominic Hyam, 16. Adam King (capt), 17. Cameron Smith. Subs: 12gk. Liam Kelly (not used), 6. Darren Petrie (not used), 7. Samuel Nicholson (for Smith, 66), 13. George McLennan (not used), 15. Charles Telfer (not used), 18. Harry Cardwell (for Johnstone, ht). Coach: Ricky Sbragia.

Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano (Spain).
Assistants: Angel Nevado Rodriguez (Spain) and Paul Hodskinson (England).
Fourth Official: Tony Harrington (England).

Attendance: 198
Duration: first-half: 46:00; second-half: 48:03

Goals: none

Ukraine: Chumak (YC, 48), Pidkivka (YC, 60)
Scotland: Johnstone (YC, 28), Smith (YC, 49), Micholson (YC, 69)

Landlord v tenant

p20140520aTuesday 20th May 2014
Wednesfield 1 Wolverhampton Sporting Community 1
(After extra time, Wednesfield won 4-3 on penalties)
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division Cup Quarter Final
At: Cottage Ground, Amos Lane
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (16 pages)
Weather: mild, cloudy, dry

Wednesfield (red and white stripes / black / black): 1. Sam Arnold, 2. Martin Stanton, 3. Bobby Glencorse, 4. Kieron Payne, 5. Danny Carter (capt), 6. Richard Golding, 7. Josh Jones, 8. Tom Essex, 9. Wayne Price, 10. Ricky Nicholls, 11. Scott Embury. Subs: 12. Tom Horton (not used), 14. Callum Wood (not used), 15. Sam Giles (for Price, 82), 16. Ben Sanderson (for Glencorse, 66), 17. Ashley Evans (for Stanton, 80). Manager: Lee Price.

Wolverhampton Sporting Community (orange and black stripes / black / orange): 1. Sam Benton, 2. Nathan Cain, 3. Raymond Facey, 4. Darren Williams, 5. Kieron Moran, 6. Ryan Jones, 7. Nathan Jones, 8. Callum Sheffield, 9. Tony Onocha, 10. Roman Gayle, 11. James Quarry. Subs: 12. Ashley Dickens (not used), 15. Jonathon Holdcroft (for Sheffield, 80), 16. Simeon Lawrence (for Onocha, ft), 17. Marlon Taylor (for Gayle, 65). Managers: Paul Harrison and Mark Hopson.

Referee: Neil Read.
Assistants: Adam Mullins and Bob Butler.

Attendance: 105 (headcount)
Duration (45): first-half: 45:23; second-half: 47:35
Extra-time (15): first-half: 15:38; second-half: 15:53

0-1 Tony Onocha (75)
1-1 Ben Sanderson (83)

Wednesfield: Richard Golding (YC, 90), Josh Jones (YC, 90), Tom Essex (YC, 116)
Wolves SC: Kieron Moran (YC, 68)

Penalties (at changing rooms end):
0-1 James Quarry SCORED
1-1 John Jones SCORED
1-2 Ryan Jones SCORED
2-2 Ashley Evans SCORED
2-3 Nathan Cain SCORED
3-3 Scott Embury SCORED
3-3 Raymond Facey SAVED
4-3 Ricky Nicholls SCORED
4-3 Marlon Taylor SAVED