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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

My Matchday - 451 Beechwood Park

Auchinleck Talbot 2v1 Hurlford United
(Talbot win 5-2 on aggregate)
Scottish Junior Cup Semi-Final Second leg
Saturday 18th April 2015
Another trip into the Scottish Juniors for the big clash between Auchinleck Talbot, the most successful club in the Junior Cup against the current holders Hurlford United in an all Ayrshire semi-final.

Wherabouts and Whatsabouts
Auchinleck is situated at the heart of the ancient Kyle district in Ayrshire. The name derives from Scottish Gaelic -  achadh ('field') and leac ('slab') meaning a 'field of flat stones'  There are records of a community existing from the early 13th century, however the village came to prominence with arrival of the Boswell family in 1504. The marriage of a daughter of Sir John Auchinleck to Thomas Boswell, saw the estate and the title of laird granted to Boswell by King James IV. The family’s diligence of their large estate saw the growth of a practical village community emerge from the surrounding barren moorland. 

The village benefited from mining and quarrying in the area, which saw the population rise fourfold in fifty years to almost 7,000 by 1881. The Nationalisation of coal industry in 1947 brought investment, along with the building of the Barony Power Station in 1957. However the village went into industrial decline after the demise of deep pit mining and the closure of the power station in 1989.
Surrounding the village is Auchinleck House, which is an 18th-century Category A listed mansion. The estate has the remains of Auchinleck Castle and Auchinleck Old House and it was the former home of the lawyer, diarist and biographer James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck.  His biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson is regarded as an important stage in the development of the modern genre, claimed at the time as the greatest biography written in English.
Plantpot History
Auchinleck Talbot formed in 1909 and are named in honour of Lord Talbot de Maldahide, the man who gifted the club their Beechwood Park home. Due to financial problems Talbot folded in 1916 but returned four years later, winning the Ayrshire Cup with a 3-0 victory over Irvine Meadow. In 1920 they set a club goalscoring record in the Scottish Junior Cup, defeating Craigbank 11–0 at home, a scoreline they surpassed when hammering Nairn St. Ninian 13–1 in 2008.

Talbot are the most successful club in the history of the Scottish Junior Cup, lifting the trophy on ten occasions, stretching back to a 3-2 victory over Petershill in 1949. They became the first club to lift the trophy in three consecutive years with a 3-2 win over Pollock in 1986, followed by single goal victories over Kilbirnie Ladeside and Petershill. At the turn of the 1990’s they beat Newtongrange Star and Glenafton, with their next success coming 14 years later against Bathgate Thistle in the 2006 final. In recent years they have been the team you have to beat in the cup, with Talbot triumphant over Clydebank in 2009 in their centenary year, Musselburgh Athletic in 2011 and Linlithgow Rose in 2013. The chance of another three in a row was denied after losing the 2012 final to Shotts Bon Accord.
Its not just the Junior Cup where honours have been won, there's also eleven Ayrshire League titles, three West of Scotland Super League Premier Division and they won the West of Scotland Cup nine seasons out of ten between 1979 and 1989, plus there's also an array of regional cup competitions to add to the trophy cabinet.
Ground no.451 Beechwood Park
(Scottish Grounds 59 Junior Grounds 14 Lifetime Junior Cup Winners 9/27)

The ground is dominated by the impressive main stand, which was opened in 2005 and sits halfway with a mixture of 500 different coloured seats. There is terracing on all sides with covered enclosures at the far side beyond the dugouts and behind the goal at the Social Club end. On the terraces theres The Bot Shop which sells club souvenirs and Andy’s Snacks cabin which has a good selection of food and a good supply of scabby-eyes (pies) The ground has some nice touches, painted in the gold and black club colours with the club crest embossed on the walls. 
The Match
If you need to know the reason why I've fallen head over heels for the Junior game then its occasions such as this. A fabulous ground within a scenic setting, with a match full of passion, commitment and drama. The Bot went into the second leg with a handsome 3-1 lead from the first leg at Blair Park last Saturday and it seemed just a case of finishing off the job to reach their 13th Junior Cup final.

Talbot had the best of the first half, applying pressure with a few decent headed efforts on goal but nothing clear cut in a disjointed opening period. The match sprang into life just two minutes after the restart in a crazy 10 minute spell as I was queuing up at the snack bar for a pie. 
Talbot goalkeeper Andy Leishman brought down Ross Robertson in the box with the referee having no hesitation in awarding the penalty, followed by a straight red card. Without a substitute 'keeper it was left to Davy Gormley to don the goalies gloves, and he miraculously pulled off a fabulous save to deny Stewart Kean from 12 yards. The save lead to a mad scramble in the six yard box with the ball eventually put out for a corner and two players booked for playing a major part in the fracas.
From the resulting corner kick the ball was met at the far post by Robertson who headed home to put the Ford back in the tie. It was now game on with the visitors having the extra man advantage and facing an untried 'keeper between the sticks. That numerical edge didn't last much longer as two minutes later an ugly tackle from Kean meant a second yellow card, so we were back to level sides with still half an hour left to play.
This seemed to give the home side a major boost and they went onto win the tie with two individual pieces of brilliance. Just before the hour mark a Bryan Young inswinging corner swerved over the defence and directly into the far corner of the net to put his side level and restore the two goal aggregate advantage. 
Hurlford failed to test the stand in 'keeper and their grip on the trophy slipped away with an ambitious effort from Keir Milliken, striking his shot wide on the left and a few yards over the halfway line, sailed high, handsome and over the 'keeper and into the net. A truly wonderful strike and a fitting goal to book a place in another cup final for The Bot.
This striker knows how to save a penalty strike

Matchday Stats
ATFC 2(Young 59 Milliken 71)HUFC 1 (Robertson 51)
Top Bloke - Keir Milliken (Auchinleck Talbot)

Admission £7
Programme £2
Pin badge £3
Mince and onion pie £1.20
Coffee 80p

Foetoes(Matchday album of 24 pictures from Beechwood Park)
My Matchday
The journey to Auchinleck was straight forward, boarding the 0924 from Newcastle to Carlisle, then the slow train to Glasgow Central at 11.15, which goes via Gretna Green and Dumfries then onwards through Ayrshire. I had half an hour spare in between trains but managed to resisted a quick bevvy in Wetherspoon, to grab a bite to eat instead, plus I was still feeling a bit rough from the Newcastle Beer Festival the night before.

I arrived in Auchinleck at 1240 and headed straight to the ground. As there was a big crowd expected I wanted to take some photographs of a naked Beechwood Park. There was quite a few club staff already at the ground and I was made welcome and allowed a lap of snaps. 
I called into the Boswell Arms for a pint before returning for a drink in the Supporters Social Club, where I met up with Donald McCrorie from the 100FgC Facebook group for a quick chat before the game.

The Railway Inn is the closest pub to the train station so I had a pint in there before the 1708 to Carlisle. The journey home was straight forward as well, due back in Newcastle nice and early at 2018. Its a this point in the proceedings that this pleasant spring day in glorious warm Ayrshire sunshine went fat bottom over large bosom! .... 
..The train from Auchinleck didn't turn up, apparently there was a staff shortage so the train was cancelled, however they didn't bother to pass this valuable piece of information on to the half a dozen commuters waiting patiently on platform 2. 
The next train wasn't due until twenty to seven, so this meant I would have to catch the last train from Carlisle, so I would be back home 3 hours later than scheduled. Just as I was about to go back into the village and kill an hour in the pub a bus pulled into the car park. I asked the driver if he was a train replacement and he confirmed he was going to Carlisle. I was hoping we would arrive in the border town in time for the 1941 service, but we pulled into the station ten minutes after its departure, so this meant the dreaded drunken fuelled last train home.

To cut this long(journey home) story short, I got wind of a bloke also travelling back to Newcastle who had been on the same bus from Kilmarnock. He was kicking off big style in the station office about this shoddy service and demanded a taxi home. I casually strolled into the office and with my very best little boy look entreated for a share of the taxi ride, which the gentleman in question agreed to with the train station guard only to willing to help.
So my return journey from a terrific day in Auchinleck was by coach and a taxi, arriving in Newcastle at 9.30pm and back home for ten. Of course these transport shenanigans are all part of a football travellers life, and I can life with the odd hiccup now and then, as long as the destination has been well worth the effort and today it certainly was.

All going well I’m in the process of writing a book on the winners of the Junior Cup over the last 50 years, so I’ll be writing a more thorough piece on my matchday at Auchinleck. This chapter will also include A69 madness, pregnant women and the laughing cavalier.
You can check the progress and a map of the grounds on my list on the T’Do Page.

Around The Alliance - part fourteen

448. The Longbenton Centre 3G
Newcastle University 4v4 Hexham
Northern Alliance Division One
Saturday 4th April 2015
During this season Newcastle University have moved around the corner from Cochrane Park to the University facility at the Longbention Centre. The ground is at the top of Coach Road beside the home of Team Northumbria which is basically just next door. The centre has the changing room facilities at the entrance by the car park with the 3G pitch at the bottom, past the Stan Calvert Memorial Pitch which is home to the University’s women's hockey team. The pitch is the usual uniformed 3G affair, fully caged with four pylons on each side.
The University team applied the pressure in the early stages but Hexham broke the deadlock with their first attack when Kurtis Harvey turned in a low cross from close range. 
The home team were finally reward for their positive start in the 18th minute when Matthew Baldwin robbed the defender before slotting in from the inside left channel, but minutes later they fell behind again, after a foul by the ‘keeper on Lancaster saw Harvey grab his second from the penalty spot.

After the restart Hexham extended their lead when Lewis Loughhead met a left wing cross to fire in his right foot shot into the far corner, before Nick Harrison nipped in the pull one back just before the hour mark.
The best moment of an open entertaining game came on 63 minutes, when Tony Lancaster picked up the ball in midfield and fired in from 25 yards to put Hexham 4-2 up. At this stage it looked game over, but the hosts finished the match in the same manner as they started to snatch a well earned point. 
On 70 minutes a free kick was nodded into the path of Harrison who was left with an easy task from inches out, then ten minutes later substitute Lewis Whybrow stayed onside to fire in under the ‘keeper to give the Uni an equal share of the eight goals.

Matchday Stats
NUFC 4(Baldwin 18 Harrison 59,70 Whybrow 81)
HFC 4(Harvey 11 20pen Loughhead 52 Lancaster 63)
Top Bloke - Tony Lancaster (Hexham)

449. Bridgend Park
Wooler 0v2 Blyth Isabella
Northern Alliance Division One
Saturday 11th April 2015

Wooler is a small town on the edge of the Northumberland National Park on the main A697 road which runs between Morpeth and the Scottish Border at Coldstream. The market town is referred to as the "Gateway to the Cheviots" and is a popular base for ramblers, found on the St. Cuthbert's Way long distance trail between Melrose Abbey and Lindisfarne.

Wooler FC date back to 1883, having played in the North Northumberland League which they last won in season 2011-12. The club stepped up to the Northern Alliance Division Two the following season and after a fourth place finish and a rejigging of the divisions, they were promoted to Division One.

The Northern Alliance website has the ground named as “The Martins” which is the side street which leads into (according to Google Maps) Bridgend Park. The ground is found on the edge of the town just off the A697 South Road, which is roped off with advertisement boards and benefits from a larger hedgerow down one side. There is a singular dugout at each side with the changing room cabin in the corner by the entrance

Wooler suffered their 18th defeat of the season to Blyth Isabella with the match settled by two early goals. In the fourth minute a deep free kick aimed at the far post was squared back into the box for Jordan Wilson to fire in. The hosts made a poor start and were punished minutes later when Michael Meins burst through the centre of midfield before easily outrunning the defence and slotting the ball home. 
Both teams carved out plenty of chances with Wooler improving in the second half, but it was evident that a lack of a decent finisher is the reason this youthful team is anchored at the foot of the table.

Matchday Stats
WFC 0 BIFC 2(Wilson 4 Meins 11)
Top Bloke: Andrew Davidson(Blyth Isabella)

450. Wentworth Leisure Centre
Hexham 2v1 Blyth Isabella
Northern Alliance Division One
Wednesday 15th April 2015
Hexham is a market town and civil parish in Northumberland in the former district of Tynedale, located just south of the River Tyne. The town is located 28 miles west of Newcastle and is just six miles from Hadrians Wall. Hexham Abbey originated as a monastery founded by Wilfrid in 674. The crypt of the original monastery survives, and incorporates many stones taken from nearby Roman ruins at Coria and Hadrian's Wall. The current Hexham Abbey dates largely from the 11th century  but was significantly rebuilt in the 19th century. Other notable buildings in Hexham include the Moot Hall, the Old Gaol and the covered market.

Hexham FC was formed as a junior club in 2002 with the union of two teams in the town; the Bears and the Tigers. The club took their green and white hooped kit in honour of Hexham Hearts, who were a top senior club after the Second World War. In 2005 they became a Charter Standard Development Club, with junior teams covering all age groups and a senior side which joined the Northern Alliance Division Two in 2006. The seniors were Division Two champions in 2011-12 winning promotion to Division One where they've played since.
The Wentworth Leisure Centre is found next to the town’s main car park and opposite the train station. The changing rooms are within the centre with a fully railed off pitch adjoining the main building. There is one dugout on each side with a 50 seater stand which sits in front of the eight lane running track. There are eight floodlight pylons which meant tonight's game could kick off at 7pm, instead of the usual 6.15pm at this stage of the season.

After seeing both teams in action recently I was expecting a good open contest and that’s exactly what we got, with the match settled deep into stoppage time. Hexham took the lead in the 18th minute with another cracking goal from Tony Lancaster, who ran onto a through ball in the centre of midfield and blasted in an unstoppable drive from 20 yards. 

Isabella applied the pressure for much of the second half and equalised on the hour mark when Matthew Lavender was on hand to slide in a right wing cross. At this point there was only one team in it, and they could have settled matters in the last minute when a close range header was brilliantly saved by Sean Heads, who somehow managing to claw the ball over from just under the crossbar. That save looked to have earned his side a precious point but as it turned out it was three, as moments later Luke Parkinson connected with a through ball on the left flank and fired into the roof of the net. A valuable win for Hexham at the foot of the First Division, who remain second bottom but are only 3 points behind rivals Isabella and New Fordley with games in hand.

Matchday Stats
HFC 2(Lancaster 18 Parkinson 90+1) BIFC 1(Lavender 61)
Top Bloke - Luke Parkinson(Hexham)
Admission & programme:none

Pic of the Week Cup 2015 - Round 2

Ben Hall - Hertha Berlin

Paul Paxford - Bristol Rovers

100FgC Squad #143 Joanne Sexton - Real Madrid

100FgC A8 Simon Langston - FU Moon

Oleg Sarayko - Rotor Volograd

100FgC A32 Katie Wallace - Whitby Town

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My Matchday - NCEL Hop 2015 (Good Friday)

Friday 3rd April 2015

445. Marsh Lane
Barton Town Old Boys 0v3 Cleethorpes Town
NCEL Premier Division
(11.30am ko)

I was the designated driver for this latest Groundhop, departing at 8am to pick up Lee Stewart, before navigating through the damp weather along the A1 and M62 on route to Humberside. Our first destination was Barton-upon-Humber, which is a town and civil parish in North Lincolnshire. This meant crossing the Humber Bridge as the town is found on the south bank of the Humber Estuary,  six miles south-west of the city of Hull.
Barton Town Old Boys Football Club was formed in the summer of 1995 after the merger of the town’s two established clubs; Barton Town and Barton Old Boys.
Barton Town formed in 1880 and were one of the founder members of the Lincolnshire League, which was won in 1960-61. The club went on to have two spells in the Yorkshire League, with a few seasons in the Midland League sandwiched in between. The club returned to the Lincolnshire League in 1981, winning the title in their first season and remained in the league for a further decade, before dropping out due to finances

Barton Old Boys had been a member of the Scunthorpe and District League since 1959. The club became one of the most successful clubs in the league culminating in winning of all four major Scunthorpe League competitions in 1994-95.

The new club began life in the Lincolnshire League in 1995-96 season, winning the title the following season. The Swans joined the newly formed Humber Premier League for the start of the 2000/01 season, after a third place finish they progressed to the Central Midlands League. The club joined the Northern Counties East League in 2007-08, winning promotion to the Premier Division in 2010-11 after finishing runners-up to Staveley MW.
The club play at Marsh Lane which was the home of Barton Town since 1927.  Entrance to the ground is in the corner next to the the changing rooms and clubhouse building. The main stand is over the far side, which sits central and made up of 240 white flip seats across four rows. There are two identical standing enclosures each side of the goal posts at the top end, and the rest of the ground is open with the dugouts on the clubhouse side. The ground is now known as The Euronics Stadium as they are the main club sponsor.
Cleethorpes Town backed by a large and noisy following kept their title challenge alive with a convincing victory. The Swans could have been a few goals to the good before Brody Robertson gave the visitors the lead on 36 minutes. The striker picked up the ball on the left wing before cutting inside, his initial effort was blocked by the defender but he found the net at the second attempt with a neat finish.
Barton worked hard to grab an equaliser but were undone late on when Louis Grant rounded off a quick counter attack on 87 minutes, before Robertson fired in his second deep into injury time, latching onto a long ball for an easy task from close range which send the travelling hordes into raptures.
Matchday Stats
BTOBFC 0 CTFC 3(Robertson 35,90 Grant 86)
Top Bloke - Brody Robertson(Cleethorpes Town)
Admission £5
Programme £1.50
Pin badge £3
Sausage sandwich £.1.70

446. West Street
Winterton Rangers 1v1 Yorkshire Amateur
NCEL Division One
(2.30pm ko)
For the second game of the day we headed 8 miles west along the A1077 Ferriby Road to Winterton, which is a small town in North Lincolnshire,  five miles north-east of Scunthorpe on the banks of the Humber. The history of Winterton goes back to Roman times with several large mosaic floors and findings of other Roman remains in the town.
Winterton Rangers formed in 1934 and became members of the Scunthorpe & District League in 1935 .They spent five seasons in the Lincolnshire County League from 1965 until they accepted an invitation to join the Yorkshire Football League. They won a hat-trick of league titles during the 1970’s, before becoming founder members of the NCEL in 1982. After just two seasons the club disbanded due to financial difficulties, but reappeared in 1986, re-entered the NCEL Division 2  
In 2007-08 season they were Premier League champions winning the title by a clear 13 points and bagging 116 goals. They are currently back in the First Division after being relegated last season.
Winterton originally played at Sewers Lane, then Watery Lane until purchasing the land at West Street for £700 in 1950. The players originally used the Butchers Arms before installing an ex-Army hut from a POW camp for changing facilities. The land was sparse with just an adjoining cricket field but nowadays the area has grown, surrounded by modern houses and the football ground now reflects its contemporary surroundings.
The ground has two identical stands on each side, one having 245 blue flip seats bolted to its three steps and the other a standing terrace.  The rest of the ground is open with hard standing behind the goals. Next to the entrance is the main building which has the changing rooms, Rangers cafe and the Rangers Bar at the back.
Rangers came from behind with a daisy cutter from Jack Start just before half time giving them a share of the spoils. Amas ‘keeper Bojang pulled of a string of fine saves before Joel Hughes headed in a close range header after quarter of an hour. The equaliser came on 41 minutes when the ball dropped to Start on the edge of the box, his shot trickled into the corner of the net with Josh Batty trying to claim the goal, maintaining it took a deflection on route to goal. The second half was a pretty even affair and the draw was the just about the right result.
Matchday Stats
WRFC 1 (Start 42) YAFC 1(Hughes 14)
Top Bloke - Suwara Bojang(Yorkshire Amateur)
Admission £5
Programme £1.50
Pin badge £3
Tea £1

447.The Bradley Football Development Centre
Grimsby Borough 3v1 Hall Road Rangers
NCEL Division One
(6.30pm ko)

The trio of today’s matches concluded on the outskirts of Grimsby at the Bradley Football Development Centre. As there was a few hours spare before the 6.30 kick off we took a detour to Brigg. Last week Graham Precious teased me on Facebook with a picture of the Wetherspoons pub in the town and the fact I hadn’t been to The White Horse. This was soon rectified with a ‘Fish Friday’ tea, a couple of cups of coffee and a half of Milk Stout. The distance between the two grounds was 28 miles, so we still arrived in plenty of time, a good half an hour before kick off.
The club was formed in 2003 after a meeting at the Lord Tennyson pub in Louth. Borough are another club who started life in the Lincolnshire League, finishing runners-up in their first campaign to earn promotion to the Central Midlands League Premier Division in 2004.
They finished second in their debut season but were unable to gain promotion as they failed to meet the required ground criteria. They finished runners-up again in 2006-07 and promotion was granted to the Supreme Division, having agreed on a groundshare with Brigg Town. The following season despite finishing mid-table, they were invited to join Division One of the Northern Counties East League, where they’ve played since.
“The Wilderness Boys” originally played at the King George V ground, before playing at the Grimsby Institute of Further & Higher Education following their promotion to the Central Midlands League. After the groundshare at Brigg Town's, they moved to the new Bradley Football Development Centre in 2010. The first game at the new council owned stadium was against Scarborough Athletic on the 24th November, where over 580 people saw Borough lose a NCEL League Cup tie 4-3.
The ground is pretty basic with a standard seated stand on one side and a cover directly behind the top goal. The ground is open with hard standing on all sides. The refreshment and bar facilities plus the changing rooms are all in the main building. The ground is currently share with Cleethorpes Town, which means there’s a club from Cleethorpes playing in Grimsby and a club called Grimsby playing in Cleethorpes!!!
I recently saw bottom of the table Borough in action just a few weeks ago at Yorkshire Amateur. On that occasion they made a promising start to the game, but still managed to get gubbed 5-0. Again, they were on the front foot from the kick off against Hall Road Rangers, but conceded in the fifth minute after a cracking 25 yard drive from Daniel Walker with the visitors first decent attack. After that early setback another good hiding looked on the cards, but they grabbed a well deserved equaliser on 21 minutes, when Peter Fuller was on hand to fire home a left wing cross from six yards.
Grimsby Borough probably produced their best 45 minutes of the season in the second half, dominated throughout with two fabulous goals to double their win tally for the season. Twenty minutes from time Matthew Hall picked up the ball in midfield before running at the defence and unleashing a powerful shot which gave the ‘keeper no chance. The points were wrapped up ten minutes later when Fuller claimed his second, picking up a square ball and placing his side foot effort into the far corner. 
This was without doubt the best game of the day and it was pleasing to see the hosts claiming a rare victory.
Matchday Stats
GBFC3(Fuller 21 81 Hall 70) HRRFC 1(Walker 5)
Top Bloke - Peter Fuller(Grimsby Borough)
Admission £4
Programme £1
Pin badge £3

Another cracking Groundhop, and as always it’s good to catch up with friends from all corners of the UK. I didn’t spare the horses on the way home, after dropping Lee off in Houghton-le-Spring I was back at Gallowgate View for 11.15pm. A 5.30am start at work the next morning meant I was unable to attend the Saturday leg of the hop, but I’m sure another grand day out was had by all.

Foetoes (Matchday album of 53 pictures from all 3 matches)