10th November 2007
Arngrove Northern League Division Two
A successful trip to Southend Road, the home of the most Westerly based club in the Arngrove Northern League, after missing out the last time in seeing ‘The Blues’ in action, this was also the ideal fixture and excuse to make my escape from another game that was happening today.
Penrith were formed in 1894, apart from one unsuccessful season in the North Eastern League in 1907-08, the club enjoying a successful period during their early years winning many honours within the clubs home county of Cumberland. The Blues later gained entry to the Northern League in 1948; their first of two spells in the league, their major achievements during this era were runners-up to Stanley United in 1961/62 and reaching two League Cup finals.
The club joined the newly formed North Western Counties League in 1982 and won promotion to Northern Premier League Division One in 1988, their highest status within the league pyramid, but by the turn of the ‘90’s the club were relegated and after a gap of 15 years the club transferred over to Northern League Division One, the clubs true football home. Their first season back started with a 6th place finish, but the next season saw relegation, the club have alternated between the two divisions but have won their first ever trophy in the Northern League, winning the Craven Cup in 2001 with a thrilling 5-4 extra-time victory over South Shields.
This is maybe the last full season that football will be played at Southend Road, or to give it its brand name The World Group Stadium, the ground has two turnstile entrances, the main access is behind the Main Stand, where there is a small office and also the changing rooms and old club house which are both decorated in bright blue, behind each goal is open standing, with the Penrith Leisure Centre side housing port cabins representing the refreshment bar and clubhouse. The far side there is a covered standing, which has adequate room giving shelter to the middle third of the terrace, the away dugout is on this side along with the second turnstile in the far corner. The pitch has a slight slope running across the pitch, there’s three floodlight pylons on each side which were installed in 1975 and another ground feature is the Tannoy announcer, who sounded like his other occupation is the bingo caller at the local working men’s club, with his Cumbrian accent having a swaggering drawl to it.
The Main Stand is quite charming in appearance, with its blue frame and the club name and crest on its peak, inside it has a basic row of four wooden benches, but it’s high levitation gives good views of the match, below the stand is the home dugout and to either side on the white panel wall is the inscription “Winners make it happen” and “Losers let it happen” judging by the performance from the Blues this afternoon, it’s the former message that the team inspire to as they easily took care of Hebburn Town 3-0, with the club from South Tyneside lucky it wasn’t more.
Penrith bossed the game from start to finish taking the lead on quarter of an hour with a well taking goal from Michael Hodgson, who found himself with plenty of time in the box to chest the ball down and pick his spot, this was followed by a similar goal on 40 minutes with more slack marking from the visitors, this time it was Barry Irving who took advantage to give the Blues a 2-0 lead at half time.
The second half matched the first, with the home side looking to stretch their lead while Hebburn relied on scoring from a breakaway, but rarely threatened, a third goal finally arrived in the 68th minute when a right wing corner was flicked on to Wayne Robertson to nod home, Penrith could have extended their lead, wasting further opportunities but can be satisfied in making it 10 wins from the last 11 games.
Penrith look a very good side, with this win taking them up to 3rd in the table, 5 points behind leaders Birtley but with 4 games in hand; if it was possible to bet on this level of football then I would be piling on them now to win this Division, amongst this fine Penrith side one player shone; midfielder Derek Townsley ran the show and reminded me of a modern day Frans Thjssen, but without the Dutch forehead and the ‘70’s porn star tache.
I travelled across to Penrith by train and had an enjoyable day out in Cumbria; I stopped off at Carlisle on the way, where I spent time at a local tavern and enjoyed a pint and a valuable goal scored on the TV, so what personally could have been a depressing day for me (a defeat for you know who, by you know what) turned out great, I could enjoy my time in Penrith and look forward to returning next season in the clubs new ground, which on today’s evidence will be in Arngrove Northern League Division One.
Ground no.151 Southend Road – Matchday Web Album.(16 pictures)
Update May 2008 - Penrith Town went on to win Division Two ahead of second placed South Shields by two points.
They also announced a merger with Northern Alliance Division One club Penrith United and from next season they are dropping the ‘Town’ from their name and reverting back to plain Penrith F.C.