"Avoid that bloody wedding" weekend!


Friday 29th April 2011
Welsh League Division One
Bridgend Town 2-0 Barry Town
Attendance: 85

After working in the morning, thus completely avoiding any coverage of William and Kate's happy event, it was to South Wales I headed in the evening for a mid-table clash between Bridgend and Barry Town. Bridgend now play their home games at The Brewery Field, which is also the home of Bridgend Rugby Club.  

The football club moved to the Brewery Field in 2009 after the consortium that the club was part of purchased the ground. The club had been homeless since leaving Coychurch Road in 2007, which was sold to make way for a supermarket. They had played at Porthcawl and Treforest in the interim. I have to admit the ground is an absolute gem!

The homesters easily won an insipid encounter, which was typical end-of-season fayre. The only thing missing was flip flops and sandals! Richard Ryan gave Bridgend the lead with a penalty after 10 minutes and Michael Walters doubled the lead with a low shot after 61 minutes.

There were a few other hoppers present in a crowd of around 85. A nice evening was rounded of by a quick visit to the Mountain Hare in Brynnau Gwynion, where a swift half of Bullmastiff Welsh Gold went down a treat.

Richard Ryan scores from the penalty spot to give Bridgend the lead.

Saturday 30th April
Western League Division One
Roman Glass St George 3-0 Calne Town
Attendance: 35

The choice of game for the Saturday was a pretty straightforward one, as RGSG were playing their penultimate game at Bell Hill before moving onto to pastures new for the forseeable future. As of next season the first team will be playing their home games at the Gloucestershire FA ground, until floodlights can be installed at Bell Hill.

I was speaking to someone at the club and he said the reason they cannot be installed at the moment is that the ground is too close to the houses, so the pitch needs to be moved 20 or so yards. This will then encroach on the adjacent cricket pitch, so whilst the cricket team is still going it’s a no go. However, within 3-4 years he said he expects the cricket team to have either merged with another local club or possibly to have folded due to dwindling interest. He said they will be back at this ground at some point.

The ground is pretty basic with a small covered terrace hard standing down one side of the pitch. The game was played in baking hot sunshine, but with a very strong breeze, which made flowing football rather difficult.

Although Calne were never out of the game, having good periods of pressure, it was a Paul Coles hat-trick that sealed the points for the homesters. His first effort was a dink over the keeper on 31 minutes after a great through ball. His second came on 49 minutes with a three-yard tap in, after the winger produced a mazy run and crossed in for him. He completed his hat-trick in stoppage time when he bundled the ball in after another good piece of wing play.

Also, just to let you all know I found the ground 1st time as it is well hidden behind the houses BUT if I hadn't been given the heads up by various hoppers i'm not sure I would have!!

SPALDING UNITED (Sir Halley Stewart Ground)

After setting off at 7.30am for Sutton United v Hastings United, and a chance to watch The U's clinch the Isthmian League title, it was upon reaching Chester that the "hopmobile" decided enough was enough and had to be towed back to base. This took around 90 minutes so the clock was ticking towards 10am and an alternative had to be sought.

I did suggest the days Shropshire hop as a cheap alternative, but my mate was unconvinced.
As I was no longer the designated driver this was now not my call, but as ever I always happy to go with flow. 

Eventually Spalding was selected as the destintion, and even though it was a nothing game (they had already been relegated) they have been shipping goals for fun so we thought lets go "goal whoring" and boost our averages!

The Sir Halley Stewart Field is where Spalding have played since their formation in 1921. The ground was originally called the Black Swan ground but was re-named in 1954 after Sir Halley Stewart, who was a local Liberal MP and philanthropist. The ground is more or less slap bang in the town centre and is very easy to get to. It also allows for a quick jaunt to a local GBG pub, in this case The Red Lion, for a decent pint of Abbot Ale.

In blazing hot sunshine the game was a tepid affair, but at least there were goals, though not as many as there could have/should have been. The Wrens took the lead inside three minutes when Chris Hewitt slotted home a cross. Matt Baxter doubled the advantage on 25 minutes before he added a third on 52 minutes with a great finish.

The Tulips (nick-named after Spalding's links with the bulb industry) created a few chances of their own but some of their defensive play left a lot to be desired and it was easy to see why they have shipped over 120 goals and have a goal difference of -80.

Hopefully they can regroup in the United Counties League next season and come back stronger.

Hopefully my car can also come back stronger in time for next weekend!

Substitute Kyle Gee-Pemberton on the attack for The Wrens.

Matt Baxter doubles Rainworth's advantage (25)

Saturday 16th April 2011
Northern Premier League Division One South
Spalding United 0-3 Rainworth Miners Welfare
Attendance: 60


11.30am, Saturday 9th April 2011
Northern League Division Two
Whickham 1-1 Washington
Attendance: 90

It was an early start for the journey north for what had been dubbed ‘northern league day’. It was an idea to try and attract a few more fans through the gate at Ryton (see below) but the main attraction for us groundhoppers was when an early kick off was arranged in conjuction with Ryton, so a cheeky double could be done.

I had the luxury of being chauffeured today so I could have a couple of beers and relax a bit more than usual, once the programmes were in the bag of course!

Whickham’s The Glebe Sports Ground, as the name suggests, is a dual ground with an adjacent cricket pitch. There is a stand behind one of goals and other that nothing else. Luckily today it was a gloriously sunny day and the only need for shelter was to get out of heat for a few minutes.

The was nothing riding on the game and it was generally poor. It had a definite 'end of season' feel to it. The hot weather perhaps didn't help the teams either. Whickham looked the better side and maybe should've scored more than the one goal they did. Just before the half time interval a ball was played into the six yard box and appeared to be turned into his own net by a Washington defender.

The second half was a non-event but with a couple of minutes remaining Washington grabbed what seemed an unlikely equaliser when Brett Turner got on the end of cross to fire home at the far post.

I must give thanks to both sides for agreeing to the early kick off, it was just a shame they weren't rewarded with a bigger crowd than the 90 that did turn up.

3.00pm, Saturday 9th April 2011
Northern League Division One
Ryton 5-3 Billingham Synthonia
Attendance: 88

After a couple of beers in the superb Keelman (the brewery tap for the Big Lamp Brewery)  it was on to Kingsley Park, in the village of Crawcrook, for the second game of the day. What a great ground. A real hotchpotch of stands, including the ingenious use of old bus shelters and, on a clear sunny day, great views of the Tyneside countryside.

This was a much better game than this morning, or maybe the Big Lamp’s 7.4% Old genie was clouding my judgement! The homesters belied their lowly position (they have already been relegated) to win their first game in 40 odd attempts. Despite the scoreline it was a very even game and Ryton seemed to score with more or less every attempt on goal they had!

It was level at the break, Chris Mcabe giving Ryton the lead on 12 minutes before James MacGowan drew Synthonia level on 25 minutes. Billingham finished the half stronger creating a few good chances and there was no indication of what was to follow.

Ryton came out for the second half and blew The Sinners away with a goal blitz to race into a 5-1 lead. Robert Frame made it 2-1 on 49 minutes, before Mcabe made it 3-1 on 55 minutes. Mcabe completed his hat-trick on 70 minutes. Billingham still kept going and on 77 minutes hit the post but it was Ryton who scored, Daniel Wilson going up the other end of the pitch to make it 5-1. Synthonia scored twice in a minute in the dying moments, MacGowan completing his hat-trick (87 & 88) to add a bit of respectability to the scoreline but who would begrudge Ryton a long overdue win. 

An enjoyable day out in the noth east and, as I always seem to say, I really should make the effort to get more of these grounds ticked off!