STAMFORD AFC (Kettering Road)

For today's journey it was a trip to the town of Stamford which, according to their tourism website, claims to be the "finest stone town in England" The town is in Lincolnshire and stands on the River Welland.

Stamford AFC were taking on FC United of Manchester in the FA Trophy.

When the draw was made this tie, for me, screamed out as the one to watch for a myriad of reasons. Potential banana skin for Northern Premier League FCUM against a team in a the league below them, the likelihood of a good crowd in attendance and also, as the train was taking the strain, a chance to tick off some GBG entries! 

However, the most important reason, as a groundhopper, is that the days of Stamford's Kettering Road ground appear to be numbered, so this was a "vulture job" for me!

Planning permission was granted earlier this year for new homes to be built on the existing site, whilst the club are going to be re-located to a new ground 2 miles up the road. The timescale for this in unclear from the articles I've read, maybe someone could enlighten me?

Pre-match was spent catching up with a FCUM fan I know on the hopping circuit, so to speak, and paying a visit to some of Stamford's finest ale houses. The Jolly Brewer and The Green Man were most enjoyable!

Stamford AFC have one best nicknames in football, as the back story is brilliant. How many clubs are nicknamed after someone who was once the fattest man Britain?

"The Daniels" comes from Daniel Lambert,
reputedly the fattest man in English history, weighing in at 52 stones at time of death, who died in Stamford and is buried in St Martins churchyard close to the ground. Mind you after the pre-match ales and pasty, I felt a wee bloated myself!!!

The crowd did not disappoint as, despite the dreary weather, 749 came through the turnstiles. This was apparently Stamford's biggest crowd for over seven years. It made for a good atmosphere as the The Daniels came from behind to win.

It was United who made the better start to the game and went at their hosts from the off. It took just 9 minutes for them to register, Mike Norton scoring. Stamford were not at the races at all and it took them until midway through the half to have any sort of attempt at goal. It was all United and Norton should have doubled his, and his team's, tally but a header came crashing back off the crossbar.

Stamford finally got themselves into the game with a few minutes remaining of the first half and carried this on into the second period when, after 50 minutes, they were level. James Spencer slipped, as he came out his goal to collect a long punt up field, and this allowed Gary King to nip in to level the tie.

Spencer's day got worse when he was forced off the pitch because of an injury and there was no replacement on the United bench. Dave Birch went in goal and had little to trouble him until 7 minutes from time when he had to pick the ball out of net!

Danny Brooks unleashed a 30 yard screamer into the top corner, which Birch had no chance of saving, to clinch Stamford's place in the next round and spark some wild celebrations (pictured left).

The ground is only a few minutes walk from the station, so the 1705 train was easily made. This allowed for a couple of hours in Birmingham, before my connection home, where old favourites The Wellington and Post Office Vaults were paid a visit. An enjoyable day out!!


Saturday 27th October 2012
FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round
Stamford 2-1 FC United of Manchester
Attendance: 749


It was more Welsh action for me today as the Welsh Trophy reached the 3rd round stage. Shamefully this was the first time I'd dipped my toe in this competition, in this current season, and, to be honest, I couldn't have picked a better day, the sun was beating down, or a better location.

Situated in the Conwy Valley, the small town of Llanrwst is on the main A470 road, on the banks of the River Conwy.

The town's major feature is a narrow three-arch stone bridge, built in 1636, which crosses the river and leads to Gwydir Park, the home of Llanrwst United. It also features prominently on the club badge.

Llanrwst United will celebrate 30 years of existence in 2013 having been formed in 1983 when Llanrwst Town and Llanrwst Athletic merged.

Llanrwst play in the Welsh Alliance, the third tier of Welsh football in the North, which feeds in the Cymru Alliance. Their opponents today were Penyffordd, who compete in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) again this league feeds into the Cymru Alliance.

It was the visitors from Flintshire who started the brightest and took the lead after 12 minutes when Andy Pugh tapped home from inside the six yard box. Penyffordd dominated the play in the first half and really should have scored more than the one goal they did, though they did hit the crossbar.

The Rwsters finally got going in the latter stages of the half and indeed they too hit the post before failing to convert the rebound.

If the final few minutes of the first half were a warning to Penyffordd, then they failed to heed it as whatever the Llanrwst manager said at half time certainly did the trick. The Rwsters turned the game on it's head and scored three goals without reply as they took control of the second period.

Moments after hitting the post, Elliott Llewellyn found himself in more or less the same position, breaking clear one on one with the 'keeper but this time he made mistake to level the tie (53).

Just two minutes later Kane Williams, on the edge of the box, fired in a dipping shot to put Llanrwst in front (55).

With 20 minutes remaining Aaron Jones broke clear and blasted the ball into the top corner to clinch the victory (70).

Penyffordd lost their discipline in the final quarter of the game and ended the game with 9 men on the field. Pete Fisher received a straight red card for a two footed tackle and Mark Pemberton was dismissed after picking up his second yellow card.

This in no way though took the shine off an entertaining cup tie.

Llanrwst moved into the fourth round where they now face another WNL side, Brymbo, at Gwydir park.

At this point I will give a little plug to next year's Welsh Groundhop. Llanrwst are scheduled to be part of a bumper weekend, details can be found here . Some great clubs and locations, so why not get on board, you won't be disappointed!

Saturday 20th October 2012
FAW Welsh Trophy 3rd Round
Llanrwst United 3-1 Penyffordd
Attendance: 35 (h/c)


Today was "non-league day" which is basically a campaign to encourage supporters of Premiership and Championship teams to go and take in a local non-league game, whilst there is a free Saturday due to the international break, in the hope it will make them want to return to watch another game.

I didn't need much encouragement to do just that!

My local game of choice was just a mere 150 miles east in the village of Dunswell, near Hull, where Hall Road Rangers were taking on Northern Counties East league rivals Brighouse Town in the 1st round proper of the FA Vase.

Dunswell has only one pub, the Ship Inn, which made an appearance in the 2012 GBG so pre-match was spent sampling a Great Newsome "Frothingham Best". The food smelt very tempting but as the clock was ticking towards 3pm, it couldn't be tasted.

Formed in 1959, Hall Road Rangers were founder members of the Northern Counties East League in 1982 and have been in the Premier Division since 2008.

In terms of league position, at the start of play it was 16th v 4th, so the form book would suggest an away victory. Unfortunately for Rangers, that's how it turned out.

The game got off to a flying start with three goals in the opening 12 minutes. Johnny Slater's heavily deflected free-kick gave the home side the lead after just 90 seconds but a Tom Matthews penalty brought the visitors level after 5 minutes (pictured left).

Matthews scored his and the Brighouse second goal after 12 minutes. The game was an open, end-to-end cup tie. The only surprise was that there were no further goals in the first half.

Rangers began the second period with purpose as they sought an equaliser but Nick Jagger scored after 65 minutes to extend the visitors lead, and effectively put the tie to bed.

As a torrential downpour began, Ryan Hall bagged a fourth after 71 minutes, Owen mountain gave Rangers a glimmer of hope when he made it 4-2 after 74 minutes but with 8 minutes remaining, Craig Billington scored a fifth for Brighouse.

Overall, it was an enjoyable cup tie and I'm sure any spectators encouraged to visit thanks to non-league day would not be put off returning based on what they saw today.

Anyhow,  it is Brighouse who move into the next round of the Vase and Hall Road Rangers will have to concentrate on the league, as they say. Their next opponents at Dene Park? You guessed it, Brighouse Town!

Who'd be a goalkeeper?


Saturday 13th October 2012
FA Vase 1st Round Proper
Hall Road Rangers 2-5 Brighouse Town
Attendance: 50