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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 - 486 Rakesmoor Lane

Holker Old Boys 0v2 Dunston UTS
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Saturday 29th August 2015
Following on from catching Dunston’s emphatic win in the FA Cup at Crook Town a fortnight ago, I was keen to see them progress further in the competition. After my Saturday shift at work I jumped into the car and drove to the tip of the Furness peninsula from their Preliminary Round tie with Holker Old Boys.

The football club started life as a school team, formed by the under-16s from the Holker Central Secondary School in 1936. The club originally competed in the West Lancashire League before joining the North West Counties Football League Division Two in 1991, winning promotion in their third season.
The club played at step 5 for five seasons until they were relegated in 1999. The closest they’ve come to returning to the NWCL top division was last season, when after a 5th place finish they lost the play-off semi-final match 3-1 away at Hanley Town.
The club play in Barrow-in-Furness, a town I visited back in 2009 for what turned out to be a Christmas cracker. Their home ground is found just off the A590, on the outskirts of the town next to the Barrow Golf Club. The club have played at Rakesmoor Lane since 1972, which has a capacity of 1,750, made up of a 220 seated stand and open standing all around. The stand is at the entrance between the corner flag and the goal, with the clubhouse and changing rooms down one side. There is also some cover on this side but the majority of the roof is missing. Opposite is the team dugouts and there are three sets of lights at each side. Rakesmoor has nice panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, but its exposed location means it’s a bit of a wind trap, so an August visit was ideal.

The biggest attendance at Rakesmoor was 1,240 for a cup game with neighbours Barrow in 1995, although their record gate was 2,300 against F.C. United of Manchester in the 2005–06 season. The match was held at Craven Park, the home ground of Rugby League side Barrow Raiders due to the large away support.
I pulled into the car park just before 2.30, where there wasn’t any spectators around as they were all crammed into the bar watching the Newcastle match. I paid the gentleman at the turnstile £4 for admission and inquired about a programme, but they were all sold out as they don’t print many because of a lack of demand. I went into the clubhouse and caught the dying embers of the game and saw a bloke sitting with a programme, who wasn’t a Dunston fan and judging by his southern accent he didn’t support Holker either, although I deducted he must be a groundhopper judging by the haversacks him and his two mates had with them. 
When I visit a new ground I like to get a programme, but if I don’t manage to trouser one I won’t get too upset, however if possible I try and get a photo of the issue instead. I approached the gentleman and when he saw me coming he quickly but the programme away in his giant bag. I said “excuse me” three times before he finally responded, in which time the paperchaser had zipped his bag closed. I asked if I could take a photograph and his reply was “I’ll let you take a picture but that’s all you can do with it” Well, what did he think I was going to do with his valuable piece of paper? Take it into the bog and wipe my arse with it!
When the game started it was Dunston who kicked against the breeze and up the slope in the first half. After an even contest they took the lead after on the half hour mark, when Luke Gilhespy won the ball in midfield and threaded a ball through to Steven Richardson, who danced ‘round the defender to make himself room for a shot, before firing past the keeper from 12 yards.
Richardson could have had a hat-trick, twice going close in the second half before the game was wrapped up on 76 minutes. A long ball from Wilkinson sent Bulford on his way on the left wing, whose cross picked out the incoming Alex Francis for an easy finish.
A determined Holker side tried to get themselves back in the game, but overall it was a comfortable passage into the First Qualifying Round for Dunston UTS, who face a tricky away tie to either North Shields or Kendal Town on the 12th September.

Matchday Stats
HOBAFC 0 DUTSFC 2(Richardson 30 Francis 67)
Att.125
Top Bloke - Steven Richardson(Dunston UTS)
Spondoolicks
Admission £4
Programme (limited issue)
Coffee £1
Meat & potato pie £1.50 



Foetoes (32 pictures from Rakesmoor)

Around The Alliance - part fifteen

483. Oxford Centre Ground
Longbenton 1v1 Gosforth Bohemian
Northern Alliance Division One
Wednesday 12th August 2015

 Longbenton is a district of North Tyneside, which is largely an extensive estate originally built as municipal housing by Newcastle City Council in the 1950s and 60s. Longbenton FC first joined the Northern Alliance in 1988, winning promotion from Division Two in 1989-90 followed by the First Division title in 1992-93. The club left the league in 1998 before rejoined in 2012, placed in Division One this season after finishing fourth last term.
Their home ground is at the Oxford Centre, which is a large community facility with the pitch set back from the main building opposite the bowling green. The pitch is fully enclosed with fencing and greenery.

 Visitors Gosforth Bohs dominated the early stages and should have taking a tenth minute lead when a penalty kick from Mark Wright came back off the post. They were made to pay for those missed chances, when a free kick from the right flank was met at the far post by a firm header by Stephen Thompson, to give Longbenton a 33rd minute lead.
Bohs got back on level terms three minutes before the break, when Kev Turnbull was put clear on goal and produced a cool finish. Both teams had decent chances to claim the three points in the second half but on reflection a draw was a fair result.

Matchday Stats
LFC 1(Turnbull 33)GBFC 1(Thompson 42)
Admission/programme:none
Att.13hc 
Top Bloke - Stephen Thompson(Longbenton)



484. Isabella Playing Fields Blyth Isabella 1V3 Shilbottle CW Northern Alliance Division One Wednesday 19th August 2015
 Blyth Isabella are a relatively new club, joining the Alliance in 2012 and winning the Division Two title in their second campaign. The club are based at the Isabella Playing Fields in the town, but according to the league website they have moved to Cowpen Park. I arrived at the ground five minutes before the 6.15 kick off to find the place deserted, before quickly finding my way along to Isabella where the players were just entering the field. 
The club should be moving to the new place in time for their next home fixture, so I've scored for an extra ground having previously not ticked off this original home.The ground is on Ogle Drive having a roped off pitch with changing room facilities behind the goal, next to the nearby kiddies park. 
 Isabella faced Division One newcomer's Shilbottle CW who dominated the first half but were unable to beat 'keeper Tony Guy who was in fine form between the sticks. They finally made the breakthrough five minutes after the restart, when Matty Graham headed home unmarked from a corner kick. 
The hosts equalised just after the hour mark with their first decent offensive move, when left-back Steven Turnbull made a good overlapping run and fired in a powerful left foot shot into the far corner. 
During the match there was a bitter undercurrent both on and off the pitch which all came to a head on 73 minutes when a late challenge resulted in a mass brawl, with no cards surprisingly produced from the refs pocket. 
Shilbottle finished the match on top with Josh Hay finally finding the target, arriving on the end of a free kick to fire in at the far post, before Graham grabbed his second to wrap up the points in the dying minutes. 
Overall a really enjoyable game, the match nearly as entertaining as the sledging happening on the sidelines, which as a neutral observer I found quite amusing.
Matchday Stats
BIFC 1(Turnbull 62) SCWFC 3(Graham 50,85 Hay 83)
Admission/programme:none
Att.24hc
Top Bloke - Josh Hay(Shilbottle CW)

485.Shilbottle Welfare Ground
Shilbottle CW 6v0 Cramlington Town
Northern Alliance Division One
Saturday 22nd August 2015

 Shilbottle is a village found just off the A1 motorway in Northumberland, 3 miles south-east of Alnwick. The village was build around Shilbottle Colliery which was bought for £50 by the English Co-operative Wholesale Society at the turn of the 20th century. The mine was upgraded and a new village of 170 houses were built, including some aged miners cottages. Shilbottle Colliery was the only pit in the area where workers had a pension scheme and were given a week's paid holiday. The National Coal Board took over after the Second World War, with production continuing until the ‘70s decline and the pit eventually closing in 1981.

The football club originally played in the Northern Alliance between 1993 and ‘96 and returned last season after winning the North Northumberland League in 2013-14. They easily won the Division Two title last term, winning 25 of their 30 matches and amassing 142 goals.
In September 2010 the new Shilbottle Community Hall was opened at the ground, costing over £1m which included a £100,000 contribution from the Football Foundation. The pitch is build up above ground level and fully railed off, with grass banking at the far side.
 Shilbottle continued from where they left off on Wednesday night with an impressive gubbin of Cramlington Town. They made an early breakthrough when Josh Hay linked up well with Callum Brooks to fire his side into the lead, before Brooks did well to stay onside and easily beat the goalkeeper with a one-on-one on 28 minutes. Just before the break a ball from the left found Hay who nodded the ball into the path of Brooks who hit a first time effort in off the post to make it 3-0.
Five minutes after the restart a foul on Hay in the box meant Brooks could complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot. Having seen Shilbottle twice this week they look a good bet to win their third consecutive league title, they seem to have a good squad of players with the three substitutes all playing their part, one of which set up Hay to make it five on 76 minutes.  
In the final few minutes full back Ryan Douglas rifled in a shot from 20 yards to bring up the half dozen and complete an impressive display from the home side.


 Matchday Stats
SCWFC 6(Hay 8,76 Brooks 28,45,51pen Douglas 88) CTFC 0
Admission/programme:none
Att.38hc
Top Bloke - Callum Brooks(Shilbottle CW)

Revisiting Millfield

It’s been donkeys years since I last visited The Sir Tom Cowie Millfield which means the ground has never featured on this website. I travelled down to County Durham to watch Dunston take on The Black and Ambers in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup and to also take an album of pictures for the blog.

The club have played at Millfield since the club formed in 1889, purchasing the ground from the local rugby club for £625. In 1896 they joined the Northern League from the Bishop Auckland and District League.
They won the first of five FA Amateur Cup in 1901 defeating King's Lynn 3–0 after a replay. Further success in the competition came at the old Wembley Stadium with victories over Bishop Auckland (1953) Barnet (1959) Hounslow Town (1962) and Enfield (1964)

The Northern League was first won in 1914-15 and further championships have been few and far between, claiming the title in 1926–27, 1952–53, 1958–59, 1962–63.

Crook made the first of three tours to Spain in 1913  which included matches against played Barcelona, who they played a total of 10 times following subsequent tours in 1921 and 1922. Crook born Jack Greenwell  played on the first tour and stayed on to play for Barcelona. Jack went on to manage the Catalan club and also the Spanish national team before coaching all over the world during the 1930's.

The ground is one of the best in the Northern League with a traditional stand and large covered terrace on one side. There's a standing terrace behind one goal and hard standing with grass banking on the far side and behind the top goal.
Dunston continued their fabulous start to the season with an emphatic 6-0 win at Millfield, coasting into the Preliminary Round where they will face Holker Old Boys in a fortnights time.


First Visit
Ground no.99
Thursday 20th November 2003
Barcelona Cup
Crook Town 1 (Morris 43)
Newcastle United 10(og 7 Ambrose 10 O'Brien 19, 21 Guy 30, 32, 71, 89 Gate 76 Brittain 86)
Att.1000est

Latest Visit
Saturday 15th August 2015
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Crook Town 0 
Dunston UTS 6(Bulford 6 Wilkinson 13 Smith Richardson Halliday 77 Kemp 86OG)
Att.TBC
Admission £5
Programme £1


Matchday Album (33 pictures)

Pic of the Week Cup - Round 4

100FgC Squad#177 Frans Van Der Berg - Amsterdam
Yuri (Magshop team) Tayyip Erdogan, Istanbul

100FgC Squad#68 Jonathan Elton - Red Bull Arena
Stephen Carpenter - Kingstonian
100FgC Squad #50 Joris van der Wier - Billingham Synthonia

100FgC A17 Peter Miles - Vitesse Arnham


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My Matchday - 482 New Western Park

Renfrew 2v0 Johnstone Burgh
Euroscot Section League Cup
Saturday 8th August 2015
As part of this continuous journey I was hoping to tick off Renfrew on the day they moved into their new ground. I booked advance train tickets to Glasgow for this date and luckily fate was on my side, as the club announced the opening of New Western Park was against their former landlords in the group stage of the League Cup.

Whereabouts and Whatsabouts
Renfrew is a town 5 miles west of Glasgow, known as the "Cradle of the Royal Stewarts" due to its connection with the Royal house of Scotland and Great Britain. The town gained royal burgh status in 1397, becoming the county town of Renfrewshire and is also a barony. The current Baron of Renfrew is HRH Prince Charles. Down our way he is known as The Prince of Wales, but up in this part of the world he's the Duke of Rothesay, who holds lands in the area as part of the principality of Scotland.
There is still evidence of the Royal Stewart castle which dates back to the 12th century, built by Walter fitz Alan, High Steward of Scotland. The tactical location of this castle was to prevent the eastern expansion of Somerled's lordship and from Norse invaders. It was rebuilt and extended in the 13th century by James Stewart and was the chief residence of Clan Stewart. The castle eventually fell into decay and was converted into a soap works before being demolished in the 19th century. The town centre skyline is dominated by Renfrew town hall, designed by James Lamb of Paisley. The building is a mix of French and Gothic styles, featuring its square tower standing 105 feet high with corbelled turrets at each corner. 
On route to the match I stopped off at the Braehead shopping complex, which was opened not far from the town centre in 1999. I wasn’t there to do a spot of shopping mind, there was a Wetherspoons tick to be had amongst its many bars, restaurants and attractions. The town lies close to the M8 motorway, making it easily accessible by car, while regular bus services connect the town to Glasgow and other places in the area.

Plantpot History
Renfrew F.C. were founded on the 6th May 1912, taking over Western Park from the defunct Junior Club Renfrew Victoria, who had called it a day and vacated the ground two years earlier. There was also a senior side which played in the town in the late 19th century, who took part in early years of the Scottish Cup. The club were successful from the off, winning the Scottish Junior Division One title twice and lifting the Renfrewshire Cup for the first time in 1917, a trophy they have gone on the win ten times. This was also the year when they reached their first Junior Cup final, navigating everyone round without conceding a goal, until the cup final replay saw St Mirren Juniors bag the only goal of the game to claim the top prize. It was a similar story in 1962, a single goal defeat to Rob Roy in the replay after a 1-1 draw, then in 2001 they completed a unique Junior Cup final hat-trick. The Frew faced Carnoustie Panmure at Firhill Park and played out yet another draw, however the days of replays are long gone, so after another 120 goalless minutes they overcame their opponents 6-5 in a penalty shoot out, with Neil Shearer scoring the decisive spot-kick.
The blue and white striped shirts of The Frew have won a host of local cup competition and in the league they claimed the Central League Division One title in 1991-92. Their highest finish since the Juniors reconstruction was in 2005-06 when they finished runners-up to Auchinleck Talbot in the West Super League Premier Division.
Ground no.482 New Western Park
(Scottish grounds 67 SJFA grounds 20 Lifetime Junior Cup winners 14/27)

The move to a new ground has been mooted for over 30 years and at long last the club begin a new era on the edge of Renfrew Retail Park. The paying entrance is in the corner, where behind the goal is the changing rooms, hospitality bar, toilets and refreshment hatch all within one building. Down one side is a small covered terrace with hard standing along this side which continues behind the nearside goal. Spectators are only allowed to use these two sides, as the opposite side has the team dugouts and a players warm up area, while there isn’t enough space behind the far goal. The ground has floodlights and a superb 3G pitch, which is good news for Groundhoppers during the winter months. The stadium is a working progress, so with more funding further improvements will be made including the option to extend the stand.
The Match
It was quite fitting that Johnstone Burgh provided the opposition for the first match at this new venue, having been kind enough to allow The Frew to groundshare at Keanie Park last season. As for the game there was little action in the first half and as the match progressed it was looking more likely that I was about to record my first goalless game of the season.
The first decent chance fell to Burgh after an hour, when an effort from Jason Hardie hit the underside of the crossbar and fortunately for Renfrew the ball bounced on the goalline, before being safely cleared. 
Renfrew finally broke the deadlock on 74 minutes, when Marc McDaid found room on the right to pick out Alan Kinney in the box who slotted the ball home. The win was sealed in injury time when Scott Arthur timed his run to perfection to stay onside before rounding the ‘keeper and running the ball into the net. So a good start to Renfrew at New Western Park, a win, a clean sheet and a decent crowd in attendance.

Matchday Stats
RFC 2(Kinney 74 Arthur 90+2) JBFC 0
Att.300hc
Top Bloke - Scott Arthur(Renfrew)

Spondoolicks
Admission £5
Programme £1
Pin badge £3
Specialty Pie (chicken curry) £2
Coffee 90p



My Matchday
I caught the direct train from Newcastle to Glasgow, where on arrival I stopped off for breakfast and numerous cups of coffee. I met up with James Little at Buchanan Street  Bus Station at 11am, to catch the X23 bus out to Renfrew. We originally planned to get the train to Yoker, then catch the ferry across the river. Because of its close proximity to the south bank of the River Clyde, a ferry has operated between Renfrew and Yoker on the opposite bank for more than 300 years. The last car ferry was retired in 1984, but a frequent passenger-only ferry still plies the route. We got off the bus at Intu Braehad for a few swift pints in The Lord of the Isles, before making more use of our £3.80 all day ticket to catch the bus to the town centre. After a few more bevvys in the Davidson bar we walked along to the ground, passing the original Western Park which is nothing but barren land and no clues that this was once the proud home of Renfrew FC for over a century. 
When we arrived back in Glasgow after the match, there was enough time to call in the Horse Shoe bar before catching the train home. We got there in time for the pending full time scores, discovering that the Heed won, the mackems had lost and for James, a win for Hearts and a defeat for Hibs. Other football scores went my way so there was the rarity of my football bet kopping, all this as well as a good day out in Renfrew, completed what I would call a perfect Soccer Saturday.

Foetoes  (Matchday album of 29 pictures from New Western Park)

Footnote
Hopefully a book will be published on my journey around the winners of the Junior Cup over the last 50 years, which will feature a more detailed account of my visit to Renfew.