Welcome to Shaun Smith's groundhopping football blog 'The 100 Football Grounds Club'(est.2006) the original internet ground logging website. Please feel free to leave any comments if you wish. Cheers!!! site updated on post date
Dunbar United 4v1 Tranent Juniors
East Region Juniors - McBookie.com South Division
Saturday 1st March 2014
Dunbar is a town on the East Lothian coast, situated exactly at the halfway point between Edinburgh and the English Border at Berwick-upon-Tweed, being 28 miles each way. The former Royal Burgh takes its name from Brythonic roots; Dynn Barr and means 'summit-fort', which gives an indication to its origins and its history involving the castle situated over the harbour.
Scotland and England often contended for possession of the castle, which withstood many sieges, until the structure was slighted in 1568. The second Battle of Dunbar in 1650 was fought during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms between a Scottish Covenanter army and Cromwell’s English Parliamentarians. The Scots were routed, leading to the overthrow of the monarchy and the occupation of Scotland.
The town later flourished as an agricultural centre and fishing port despite turbulent times in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Dunbar gained a reputation as a holiday destination in the 19th century, as a seaside and golfing resort - The 'bright and breezy burgh' famous for its 'bracing air'. Dunbar is also the birthplace of naturalist author John Muir and the home of the Belhaven Brewery since 1719.
Dunbar United formed in 1925, winning their first honours in the Edinburgh & District League in 1927-28 and the East Lothian Cup the following season. The club also won the title again in 1961-62 and added more trophies in the East of Scotland Junior Cup in 1961 and 1964 and the Brown Cup in 1963.
The Seasiders greatest achievement came in 1961 when they won the top prize in Scottish Junior Football beating Cambuslang Rangers in the final of the Scottish Junior Cup at Hampden Park, but after the successful era of the 1960's the club had a lean spell without honours. In 1990 they lifted their third East of Scotland Junior Cup and won three East Region Division Two titles, the last of which in 1997-98. The last piece of silverware came in the Brown Cup in 1999-00 and the club currently play in East Region South Division.
United moved to New Countess Park in 2001 which is a sports complex within Hallhill Healthy Living Centre. The ground is quite tidy, having a diminutive perimeter wall which separates the football from the rugby, with both sports sharing the large clubhouse found within the Living Centre.
There's room for about 2,500 spectators which is open on all sides apart from an overhanging roof at the main end, along from the changing rooms and refreshment bar. The paying entrance block is at the railway end, with perspex dugouts at the far side and eight floodlight pylons.
Dunbar were up against their neighbours from further west along the A1 (and a future tick) - Tranent Juniors The visitors withstood some early pressure before grabbing the lead, when a long ball found Bob Berry who produced a neat finish to chip the advancing keeper in the tenth minute. The Seasiders turned it around before half time, when a hard low cross was met by defender Richard Fairnie whose diving header flew past his own 'keeper, then Sam Young was on hand to give his team a well deserved lead.
The hosts had further chances to extend their one goal advantage but left it late to assure the three points. With a quarter of an hour remaining substitute Keith Tait finished off a good passing move to fire home a right foot shot into the corner of the net and with three minutes left Ross Colquhoun fouled Sam Young in the box, who stepped up and made no mistake from 12 yards to seal a convincing victory.
The journey up to Dunbar took an hour and three quarters (You were right Stevie Charla...Eddy) Those of you who might have read about my trip to Stamford at the end of January will remember “Wor Al” - that mackem tosser of a car I had, let me down big style, which resulted in a 40 mile tow home and me heavily out of pocket. Since then we’ve welcomed a new four wheeled member to the family, a bonny little Hyundai i20 named Simon. Today’s road trip was our ground bagging debut, which is hopefully the first of many enjoyable days out together of the coming years, including seeking more matches and new grounds just north of the border.
DUJFC 4(Fairnie 22OG Young 38 87pen Tait 75) TJFC 1(Berry 10)
Ground no.382 New Countess Park - Matchday Web album
York Railway Institute 4v6 York St Johns University
York League - Premier Division
Saturday 22nd February 2014
Myself, Zippy and Deal or No Deal* star Plymouth Pete took the boilers out for a day in York, but delayed the ale trail until after the match. We arrived at 1.30 and caught a taxi to the ground for the 2pm kick off, leaving the lasses for a few hours before meeting up for a pub crawl afterwards, which continued back in Newcastle later that evening.
*Watch Peter open boxes and beat The B(w)anker on the show this June
York Railway Institute play in the York League, which was formed way back in 1897. The league currently runs four divisions with its Premier Division giving step 7 status at the beginning of the season, which means I can now (by my own rules) count it as a tick.
Home matches have been played on the New Lane site in Acomb since 1926, the complex includes two rugby pitches and another football field at the far end. The main pitch is fully fenced off with light pylons and dugout frames, which have covers added just before kick-off. The road entrance into the sports ground divides the football and rugby grounds and runs towards the York RI Sports Club, where Zippy and Peter managed to blag a sausage sandwich, especially prepared after the kitchen was closed.
The football club was formed in 1886 by railway employees from York station and are one of the city’s oldest clubs. They won their first of eleven York League titles in 1935-36, becoming champions in five of the next six seasons. The York League was last won in 1967-68 before the club came to prominence from 1974 when they joined the 3rd Division of the Yorkshire League.By 1982 the club had progressed to the First Division which lead to them becoming founder members of the Northern Counties East League in 1982. The Railwaymen played in the NECL for a decade winning the double of the Division One title and League Cup in 1987-88.
In 1996-97 they moved from the York League to the West Yorkshire League, but resigned in their fifth season with their record expunged after failing to play out the full campaign. Since returning to the York League they’ve progressed to the Premier Division by winning divisional titles in 2007-08 and 2009-10.
From the kick-off the visitors gained possession and after four passes Michael Grugan was on hand to fire them into the lead after only 11 seconds, in the style of San Marino against England in 1993, but minus the hapless Stuart Pearce. The hosts drew level through Ben Jones on 22 minutes, but the lead lasted barely ten minutes as Grugan nodded in a deep free kick which found the net via the crossbar.
This familiar pattern developed throughout the half as Keenaghan equalised on 24 minutes only for Tom Ryan to fire home from the penalty spot after the referee spotted a bit of shirt pulling in the box. Just before the break Lee Powell made it 3-3, so the little score prediction bet we do amongst ourselves to make the game more interesting was well and truly knackered, so at half -time we decided to forecast the number of goals in the game; Zippy went for 8, I chose 9 and Peter predicted 10.
St Johns took the lead for the fourth time on 52 minutes when Lee Winslow got on the end of a long ball, before running through and rounding the ‘keeper with a tidy finish, then on the hour mark they managed to extend their lead with a peach of a goal from Tom Shepherd, firing in a superb 25 yard volley.
The hosts pulled one back when Nick Hartley finished off a good move and went all out for an equaliser, but it was the students who wrapped up the points, as James Peavoy fired home the half dozen for only their fourth league win of the season.
Two observations made during the game which I must mention is the visiting team had not a single soul on the bench, no manager, sponge man or any substitutes, just an empty dugout sheltering a couple of water bottles. We also witnessed a substitution made by the home side ten minutes from the end, which had us rubbing our eyes in disbelief, as the player who took the field must have been about 11 years of age. I know RI have a good junior set up covering all age groups, but this young’un must be a helluva player to be fast tracked to the seniors at such a tender age.
After the match I spoke to the winning team to get information on the goalscorers. They all seemed a bunch of canny lads and also as we left one of the RI player’s made an apology to us on his team mates behalf for their “shit performance”
It was Peter who got the goal total correct and so he received a couple of quid each off me and Zip. His celebration in winning this wee bet was way over the top, so if this is his reaction in trousering £4, then I can’t wait to see his response on TV to winning big money in the presence of the neatly bearded man in the loud shirt.
Bevvy Almanac - York Top 3
Magic Rock ‘Rapture’ (4.6%) York Tap
Kirby Lonsdale ‘Ruskins’ (3.9%) Three Legged Mare - York
Brass Castle Cliffhanger(3.8%) Last Drop Inn
YRIAFC 4(Jones 22 Keenaghan 34 Powell 41 Hartley 72)
YStJUFC 6(Grugan 1,31 Ryan 38pen Winslow 52 Shepherd 60 Peavoy 79)
Admission and Programme:none
In celebration of the success of the 100 Football Grounds( Fan)Club on Facebook, I’ve decided to make the best picture of the week choice a bit more interesting. The top contributor of the weekly honour over the course of 2014 will win a limited edition 100FgC mug, embossed with the club crest.
Each Monday morning I’ll pick the best ground photograph posted on Facebook at matches attended over the previous week, and also post the winning pictures on the blog site. To give you all a decent chance, my own pics aren't included, I’ll leave it to the photography skills our regular contributors and newcomers. So I wish you all the best of luck in pursuit of the ‘Pic of the Week Cup’
Harlow Town 3v0 Wroxham
Ryman Isthmian League - North Division
Saturday 8th February 2014The Groundhoppers public enemy number 1 is the British climate, which is in the hands of our nemesis - the Weather God. You always running the risk of pre-booked plans going tits up after a few days of heavy rainfall, this being the case today as Gateshead's Conference away fixture at Welling United fell foul to a waterlogged pitch. Thankfully the match was called off on Friday morning, which gave me enough time to workout alternative arrangements.
I had planned to meet up with Tom Salinger (Squad#96) at Wingate & Finchley, where I was to be giving the privilege of presenting the man of the match award, but this too was postponed. However I was confident that my Plan C was definitely a goer as Harlow Town have a new 3G pitch. The Weather God may be our foe but we have a friend in the third generation playing surface.
My newly drafted timetable went “off to a tee”. I arrived at Kings Cross at 1040, then after purchasing travel tickets, took the Victoria Line up to Highbury & Islington. I called into some cracking second hand record stores* on Essex Road and ticked off a couple of Wetherspoon pubs; The Angel and The White Swan, before taking the underground to Tottenham Hale. The train journey to Harlow Town takes around 20 minutes so I had plenty of time to alight at Waltham Cross for a 'Spoons lunch before finally reaching my destination at 2pm.
* I could have spent hours in Haggling Vinyl and Flashback but was short of time, but I'll be back
Harlow is a new town in Essex on the border with Hertfordshire in the Stort Valley, which is near the M11 motorway and only 16 miles from Stansted Airport, so it has good commuter access to London town and beyond.
The original village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as a typical rural community, around what is now known as Old Harlow, with many of its buildings still standing. The new town was part of the ‘Phase One’ development of new modern settlements built after World War II to ease overcrowding in and around London, due to the mass desolation caused by the bombing during the Blitz.
The Harlow plan was drawn up by Sir Frederick Gibberd in 1947, incorporated Old Harlow and the surrounding villages, each divided into neighbourhoods with their own shopping precincts, community facilities and boozer. Britain's first pedestrian precinct was built in Harlow, along with the first modern-style residential tower block - The Lawn constructed in 1951, which is now a Grade II listed building. The town centre plus many of its neighbourhood shopping facilities have undergone major redevelopment with the original buildings rebuilt to bring this “new town” into the 21st century.
The club was formed in 1879 with their first match taking place on the 18th October against Saffron Walden. At the end of the century they briefly played in the East Herts League before merging with Netteswell and Burnt Mill in 1898. The renamed Harlow and Burnt Mill FC rejoined the East Herts League, but the brief marriage of the two clubs came to an end in 1902.
In 1907 they joined the new Stansted & District League, winning four league titles during the 1920s and also had a team in the East Herts League, where they added a further four championships during the same era.The club also appeared in the Herts & Essex Border League and the Spartan League until joining the Premier Division of the London League in 1954.
They switched to the ill fated Delphian League in 1961, then two years later were placed in Athenian League Division Two, winning promotion in 1963–64 and the Division One title in 1971-72. In 1973 they arrived in the Isthmian League where they’ve played ever since, apart from having to take a season out because of ground reasons in 1992-93, plus a brief spell in the Southern League between 2004 and 2006.
Barrows Farm is the club’s third ground, having played at Green Man Playing Fields until 1960, when they moved to Harlow Sportcentre, the first of its kind in England. The Sportcentre was the scene for The Hawks greatest moment in 1980 when having beating Southend United in the second round of the FA Cup, they were drawn away to Second Division leaders Leicester City in round three. Harlow grabbed a last minute equaliser at Filbert Street to take the Foxes back to Sportcentre, where in front of a record crowd of 9,723(including a young Simple Pieman..Eddy) they won the replay 1-0.
The Club moved a mile and a half to the west of their former home to the Pinnacles Industrial Estate in September 2006, playing their first senior match the following month in a Division 1 North fixture against Ware. The stadium is now known as Harlow Arena and is quite impressive when compared with some of the other new builds in recent times, especially the impressive carpet of a pitch. The main focus is the stand which houses all the amenities including changing rooms, club offices, refreshment bar, clubhouse and 500 red seats split into four sections, with the letters HTFC picked out in white. There’s also a function room at the top of the stand which overlooks the pitch towards the Jack Chapman Stand opposite. This covered terrace has standing room for 500 spectators and is the main gathering point for the young Town fans, who give good vocal support and encouragement throughout with their chants of “Aarlow Aarlow”
The team dugouts are in front of the terrace with hard standing and grass verges behind each goal. The 3,500 capacity stadium is finished off with tall thin floodlight pylons in each corner and there's also the nice touch of a kiddies 3G pitch next to the Main Stand.
On a sunny, dry, but windy afternoon Harlow Town breezed past their Ryman League North opponents Wroxham with three second half goals. The Hawks bossed the game from the off, but had to remain patient, finally taking the lead five minutes after the restart, when a right wing cross was nodded back into the path of debutant David Laird to pick his spot from 12 yards. The hosts doubled their lead within ten minutes when Alex Reed was on hand to fire home and he grabbed his brace late on with probably the easiest goal he'll ever score, George Smith setting up the striker to knock the ball into the net inches from the goal line. Overall an easy but professional afternoons work from the Essex outfit and another three points keeps them in the promotion picture.
On arrival in Harlow I walked from the train station along Fifth and Fourth avenues, which is a canny hike just to tick off another public house. However this was nothing compared with the slog along the same road to the football ground, having to walk at postman speed instead of a leisurely wander which I would have preferred as I was carrying a belly full of beer.
At the ground I bumped into ace football ground photographer David Bauckham, who graciously offered me a lift to the station afterwards, so this allowed plenty of time to get back to Kings Cross for the 1900 back to Newcastle.
Although I was initially disappointed with the Welling match being postponed things turned out great in the end, having a really smashing day out, going to a ground and a part of outer London that I wouldn’t have visited otherwise. On the downside though, yet again the completion of the top 116 clubs will again elude me for yet another season, but deep down I knew that this was the probable outcome, as our old enemy the Weather God defeats this Groundhopper yet again.
Simple Pieman's visit in November 2006 and memories of Harlow Town.
HTFC 3(Laird 50 Reed 59,83) WFC 0
Programme £2 (sold out)
Ground no.380 Barrows Farm Stadium - Matchday Web album (33 pictures)
Stamford 0v0 Matlock Town
(Abandoned after 25 minutes)
Evostick Northern Premier League
Saturday 25th January 2014At the top of my “T’do” list this year, is a visit to Stamford’s Kettering Road ground before they relocate to a new £5m development on Ryhall Road at the end of the season. The club in a joint venture with Burghley House Preservation Trust and New College Stamford, will have matchday use of the new 1,500 capacity ground with the college students using the facilities during the rest of the week. Burghley House Preservation Trust has already been given outline permission to build 54 homes once the ground is demolished.
The club have played on Kettering Road since they were first established in 1896 after the amalgamation of the towns two leading teams - Stamford Town and Rutland Ironworks. Hansen’s Field(as it was then known and recognised with a special bottled ale) dates back to the 1870’s and boasts one of the country’s oldest main stands, built around the turn of the last century. The original wooden stand was upgraded with a con-iron roof and painted red with SAFC lettering on the front facade. The stand was later extended to accommodate standing and is now filled with about 250 red and blue flip seats with the changing rooms at the rear. The stand sits on the halfway line with the clubhouse which opened in 1975 next to it with the club shop cabin in the far corner. The team dugouts are on the opposite side with covered terracing running parallel with one half on the pitch.There’s open standing behind each goal and floodlights at the sides which were installed in 1981 after their FA Vase success.
The ground record attendance stands at 4,200 for an FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round tie with Kettering Town in 1953 which ended in a 3-3 draw and as a mark of respect to Daniels fans I won’t mention what happened in the replay.
The ground is situated in the town centre next to the train station, so it’s surrounded by the splendour of Stamford’s five medieval church spires and core of mellow limestone buildings. The town and civil parish is found just off the A1 on the River Welland in the South Kesteven district of Lincolnshire and was proclaimed as “the finest stone town in England” by Sir Walter Scott. Stamford was the first to be declared a conservation area in 1967 and was rated the best place to live by a Sunday newspaper.
The Industrial Revolution largely left Stamford untouched, with much of town centre built in Jacobean or Georgian style throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, amongst which is the Arts Centre which is one of the oldest provincial theatres in the country, dating back to 1768. Amongst the town’s other delights is the 12th century ruins of St Leonard’s Priory, the Steam Brewery, Burghley House and the nearby Rutland water.
Stamford AFC are nicknamed ‘The Daniel’ after Daniel Lambert, the heaviest British man ever who died in the town in 1809, weighing in at over 52 stone. The ground is now named in his honour and his grave is in the churchyard at St Martin’s a few hundred yards from the ground. The ground has also been know as Wothorpe Road, which is the street which leads up to the ground from the town centre and the Vic Couzens Stadium named after the club president.
After formation the club spent a single season in the ill-fated East Midlands League, then after several years without playing competitive football they joined the Northamptonshire League in 1909, winning the title in 1911–12 season. The club spent the majority of their history in the United Counties League, apart from an unsuccessful spell in the Midland League during the 1960s and early 70s. When the club returned to the United Counties in 1972 they went on to win the title seven times, becoming champions for the first time in 1975-76 and a hat-trick of successive titles from 1980. After topping the table in 1996–97 and 1997–98 Stamford joined the Midland Division of the Southern League, then after the reconstruction of the pyramid in 2004 the club were placed in the league’s Premier Division.
The Daniels were relegated and promoted again before been classed as a northern club as they switched to the Northern Premier League.The club were relegated to the southern section in their debut season but returned this season after winning the play-offs with a 2-1 success over Chasetown.
The club have made three appearances at Wembley in the FA Vase, finishing runners up to Billericay Town in 1976 and Stansted in 1984 sandwiched in between lifted the trophy with a 2-0 success over Guisborough Town in 1980.
I stayed overnight in Grantham and my original plan was to drive down to Stamford at Saturday lunchtime, but this was instantly dismissed once I arranged to meet up with big Dave Twiddy and his lads. Dave is a major shareholder at the club and he's probably the most serious drinker that I know, so it was impossible to be in his company without having a few bevvys. With this in mind I was left with no option but to have a day on the lash, so Uncle Malc dropped me off at 1130 at Grantham 'Spoons(ticked off at last) before I caught the 1212 train to Peterborough to catch the onward connection to Stamford.
I arrived just after 1pm and had a look around the town centre before heading to the pubs. I usually prepare for my travels by looking in the Good Beer Guide for the best boozers but had to rely on the What Pub website instead. Amongst their recommendations is The Crown where I called in but walked straight back out as it was "a bit too well to do" for me, as I looked totally out of place being a scruffy Geordie wearing Doc Martins and an Austrian Army coat. I then called next door to The Periwig but again turned on my heels due to there limited choice of ales. It was third time lucky though at the All Saints Brewery which is a Samuel Smith's establishment, where I enjoyed a pint of Old Brewery Bitter priced at only £1.88. It's a cracking pub, decked out with memorabilia from the Tadcaster brewery and giving a nod to Stamford's Bull-running festival which took place from the 12th century for some 700 years. I also called into The London on my way to the ground where I arrived in the clubhouse just after 2pm.
It wasn't just the Twiddy family I was meeting but also one of the founder members of the 100FgC Squad - #4 Jack Warner who I met for the first time. Jack was residing down under in Perth when he joined the new website phenomenon back in 2006 and another 6 years past until he contacted me again. After a spell in Saudi Arabia he's now back living in Blighty, doing some serious groundhopping and had travelled over from his new home in Lowestoft with his girlfriend. The 100FgC roll call also included Squad #194 Keith Arthur plus Affiliated Member Paul Brockett and it was good to see them both.
When I arrived in Stamford it was a bright sunny day, but as we approached kick off darkness descended with the pending threat of rainfall. I went outside just before kick off and spent the first 20 minutes of the game watching from all four sides as I did a photographic lap of the ground. I returned to the clubhouse to watch the match with Dave and the lads just as the lightning was becoming more frequent and just after the first big clap of thunder. Within minutes the slight drizzle turned to hailstones as the match officials and players scarpered to the dressing rooms followed by the spectators piling into the clubhouse. The match was halted as the referee and groundsmen inspected the damage before deciding to abandon the match due to the pitch being watch logged on one side and in the centre circle.
So with only 25 minutes gone that was the end of my football for the day, but I was compensated with plenty of good ale to be had with such good company in the clubhouse. I caught the 5pm train back to Peterborough with Keith an hour earlier than I planned, so I was back in Grantham and Auntie Ann's by six.
I had a terrific weekend and it was good to catch up with everyone in Lincolnshire, but of course the one drawback was not seeing 90 minutes of football. The abandoned matches that I've attended in the past haven't been recorded in my records as matches attended, but this time I'm going to make an exception to the rule.In the future if someone asks if I ever got to Stamford's old ground, then the honest answer is "yes" I paid admission, bought a programme, pin badge and seen a game, be it only just short of a third of a match. So with this in mind and as there's no opportunity of returning before they move, its therefore decided in true Its A Knockout style to play my joker on this one, so ground no.379 is Stamford AFC - Kettering Road.
To put the gloss on this crazy weekend, as we were travelling home on Sunday afternoon there was a strange smell coming from the car engine.We had to stop off in Catterick on the way back and it was here outside the racecourse that the gearbox seized and we broke down.We eventually got home at 8.30pm courtesy of a toe off the RAC and me £149 lighter in the pocket.
For the record - My abandoned past
11/12/76 - Newcastle United 1-0 Ipswich Town (FL Division 1) Abandoned 45 minutes - frozen pitch
8/1/92 - Newcastle United 0-0 AFC Bournemouth(FA Cup 3rd Round) Abandoned 17 minutes - fog
16/7/11 - Gateshead 2-0 Carlisle United (Friendly) Abandoned 57 minutes - heavy rain
6/8/11 - Newcastle United 0-0 Fiorentina (Friendly) Abandoned 64 minutes - heavy rain
SAFC 0 MTFC 0 (abandoned 25 minutes - thunder storm)
Ground no.379 Kettering Road - Matchday Web album (22 pictures)