Thursday, 26 April 2018

Leicester & Rutland FA - Holmes Park



Leicestershire & Rutland FA
Holmes Park
24 Franklin Way
Whetstone
Leicester
LE8 6QY








Ground Number: 769
Tuesday 24th April 2018
Coalville Town 2-2 Loughborough Dynamo (7-6 pens)
Leicestershire & Rutland Challenge Cup Final








LEICESTER & RUTLAND CHALLENGE CUP HISTORY

This competition was first played in 1887/88 with the first final won by Shepshed as they defeated Mill Hill House 8-0 in a replay. Leicester City (or to be more accurate their reserve side) hold the record for the most wins with 25 although they have not played in the competition for many years and last won it in 1950. More recent times have seen the trophy won by a large variety of clubs with one of tonight's finalists being one of only two teams to win it more than once since the turn of the millennium (incidentally their only appearances in the final). They last won it in 2004, beating Downes Sports in the final, having also won it the previous year, beating Barrow Town. They got to the final by beating Ashby Ivanhoe 3-2, Aylestone Park 1-0 and Shepshed Dynamo 4-1.

Coalville Town would be appearing in their tenth final, although they have only won two of those clashes - beating Holwell Sports in 2000 and Leicester Fosse Reserves in 1907. They got to the final by beating Leicester Nirvana 6-1, Leicester Road 4-1 and Barwell 3-2. All teams in this seasons competition came from steps 4-6 of the non-league and features teams exclusively from Leicestershire. For whatever reason, Rutland's sole representative at this level, Oakham United, did not enter, despite being last season's losing finalists. For the last 5 years, the final has been played at Holmes Park, the home of the Leicestershire FA and this season, it also hosted the two semi-finals.


MY VISIT

This game was decided whilst myself and Anwar were at Totternhoe last week. The fact that it was one of the closest to home appealed, as did the fact that it was originally a 7pm kickoff. The kickoff was put back half an hour which meant that we wouldn’t get home as early as I’d hoped. It was still a cup final though and a decent looking game, so we stuck with it. I did my research into the history of the cup, as well as looking at options for dinner. There was a takeaway near the ground, but it was quite expensive at £6 for a basic burger meal, so I planned in a visit to Morrisons in Lutterworth where we could get a sit-down meal. It was my usual Tuesday off on the day of the game and I was glad to get a good night’s sleep for once, waking at 8.45. After a quick breakfast, I got dressed and went down town, getting my hair cut and getting some shopping before meeting my Dad. The afternoon was spent at home, looking online and catching up on some TV. I left at 4, meeting Anwar In Aylesbury at 4.30 and soon enough we were on our way. There was around 15 minutes delay getting through Milton Keynes as if going through there wasn’t unpleasant enough as it was. For once, though, there were no delays on the M1 and we got to Morrisons in Lutterworth at 6.05. I was eyeing up a toastie and chips for £4, but were told that they had closed at 6. Presumably, they don’t eat evening meals in Lutterworth as every other Morrisons cafe closes at 7 or 8. We had to make do with stuff from the shop and I got some chicken for £2.50 and some drinks. After eating our dinner in the car park, we headed for the ground, getting there at 6.50.



There has been a number of games called off nearby, but fortunately, ours had survived the rain. Entry was a reasonable £7 including programme and after paying to get in we went and sheltered in the bar. I was still fairly peckish, so I got myself some chips for £2. Though the portion was decent enough, they weren’t very nice, having been stored in the hot cabinet for too long. I caught up online as we had more time than expected, due to another delay to the kickoff, due to traffic, the match now kicking off at 7.45. We went outside and got photos and then yet another delay was announced, the match now kicking off at 8. I’d seen that there had been warnings about roadworks due to works on gas mains and as with anything in this country, it takes ten times longer than it should as there are no penalties for delays.



The match eventually started and Coalville were making the early running. However, it was Loughborough who opened the scoring, a ball was put across, cut back and Karl Demidh was there to fire home from around 8 yards out. This led to a spell of pressure for Loughborough and they had a chance to make it two which was not taken. Coalville got the equaliser on 15 minutes, a penalty was awarded for a trip in the area and Nat Watson fired low to the keepers left to make it all square. The Ravens then had a speculative shot from Dan Creaney go just wide as they sought to establish an advantage. The game flowed from end to end and there were a good number of chances for both sides. The goal that re-established Loughborough’s lead on 38 minutes was debatable, Coalville looked to have cleared but the linesman adjudged that Ash Hodgkinson’s shot had crossed the line. Again, Loughborough nearly scored twice in the matter of a minute but a great last-ditch tackle from Steve Towers kept Coalville in it. This proved imperative, as on 42 minutes, it was all square, the Dynamo keeper was only able to get a hand to a shot and Creaney had his second. The scores were level at halftime and the second half, although keenly fought, saw far fewer chances than the first period. With the scores still level at full time, the game went to a penalty shoot-out, thankfully avoiding extra time on what was becoming a much later night than planned. Coalville blasted their first penalty over but recovered to win 7-6 on penalties. I got most of it on video and it had been a dramatic end to a good game that had been excellent in the first half but faded in the second.



It was 10:05 by the time that we finished and I wanted to get home as soon as possible. I've had problems with wildlife damaging my car by running out in front of me and giving me no chance to stop and after months of not encountering any, they were back with a vengeance tonight. First, on the road back to Lutterworth, a fox ran out but gave me plenty of time to avoid it thankfully. Then, back in Bucks, there was another fox successfully avoided before a few hundred yards down the road, a deer just laying down in the road. Again, it was avoided with ease, which meant a clean bill of health for my car. I listened to various things on the radio on the way back notable football results including Liverpool's 5-2 win over Roma in the Champions League, though they had been 5-0 up at one point. Lincoln also won 4-2 at Coventry in League 2 to keep in touch with Wycombe in League 2, while Dunstable won 2-0 at Biggleswade to give them a big boost of survival ahead of my revisit there on Thursday. I dropped Anwar off at 11.25, getting home 25 minutes later and going to bed as quickly as I could with work at 4 am in the morning.



THE GROUND

Homes Park is a smart and well-kept venue, though it is a bit isolated. There's only a Co-Op supermarket nearby that I saw and parking was pretty limited. At the ground, facilities are OK and reasonably priced, if not exceptional. The ground itself looks fairly decent, though the standard metal stands take away from it. At least there is plenty of cover, even though too much of it is seating and not standing.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
Smart and well kept, if a little bland. (6)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
A bit isolated, not much parking (4)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
A nice welcome at the gate (7)

4: Value for money
£7 with a programme was reasonable (7)

5: Social Media & Website

Kept us up to date with things (7)

6: Programme
Thin and little to read, but was free (5)

7: Game entertainment
Excellent first half and dramatic ending, the second half wasn't as good (7)

8: Tea Bar
Reasonable range and prices, chips not great (5)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
Nothing special (5)

10: Club Shop
None (-)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF A POSSIBLE 90: 53
AVERAGE SCORE: 5.88

GROUND PHOTOS

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Staines Lammas - The Lucan Pavillion Ground


Staines Lammas FC
The Lucan Pavilion Recreation Ground
The Broadway
Laleham
Staines
Surrey
TW18 1RZ

Official Website







Ground Number: 770
Wednesday 25th April 2018
Staines Lammas 6-1 Kensington Borough
Combined Counties D1







STAINES LAMMAS - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was formed in 1926 and has spent the vast majority of its history playing amateur football. They played in various leagues such as the Hounslow & District, South West Middlesex, Woking League and Surrey County Intermediate League. In 2003/04 they made the step up to semi-professional football, joining the Combined Counties Football League. They started out in Division 1 and have finished on the top half in all but two seasons. The most successful seasons came in 2008 and 2009 when they were champions. However, their basic ground was deemed not good enough for the Premier Division, so they were unable to take promotion, the main sticking point being the lack of floodlights. From 2009 until 2015 a ground share was agreed with local side Ashford Town. However, they were unable to replicate their form with the best finish being 4th in 2010. Currently, the team are having their best season in a while, sitting 6th and with a good chance of finishing higher. However, they could be demoted to step 7 at the end of the season as the FA are clamping down on any grounds without floodlights during their mass reorganisation of the non-league pyramid.

The aforementioned groundshare allowed Staines Lammas to participate in the FA Cup. Their debut season of 2011/12 was the most successful with Clanfield and Harefield United beaten before a narrow 3-2 defeat at Southern Premier side Chesham United. The FA Vase has seen a little less success, the only time they progressed past the first hurdle was in 2013/14 when New College Swindon were beaten before a 4-0 home defeat to South Park. Local cup wins include the Combined Counties Division 1 Cup in 2009 and a cup double in 2013 when they lifted both Middlesex & Surrey Senior Cups. They were also joint holders of the Southern Combination Cup in 2007 along with Merstham after a date for the final could not be agreed.



MY VISIT

I wasn't initially going to a game on this night, but then my fellow groundhopping pal Ryan spotted that Staines Lammas were at home. It was only a very basic ground, but it was one that I needed to do.  It would potentially be one of Staines Lammas last ever games in the Combined Counties League - thanks to the FA. If they have their way, all grounds without floodlights will be banished from step 6, though there is the chance for recourse via an appeal. Hopefully, I'd bring them better luck than I previously had - I'd seen them twice before - once for an 8-1 FA Cup defeat in a game played at Ashford Town and then again for a 2-2 FA Vase draw at Irchester. Though the draw had been an improvement on the previous outing, they were thrown out of the Vase despite a 3-1 win in the replay, for playing an ineligible player. I was still yet to see the visitors Kensington Borough, who were enjoying a steady season in mid-table.



The day of the day came and I woke for work at 4.15 am after around 4 hours sleep thanks to the ecer-delayed kick off at my game last night. I felt OK though and got the days work out of the way, finishing at 12. I went straight home and grabbed a nap, though the 4 hours was a little longer than intended. I woke at 4.45 and had a bath before trying to catch up on my blogs. I'd given myself a bit of a busy schedule with games four days in a row and was going to knock Dunstable Town v Gosport Borough on the head tomorrow until someone who read my blog offered me free entry to the game. With it only being 23 miles from home and a decent game on a rubbish night of TV, I decided to accept the kind offer. Due to a miscommunication with my parents, I didn't leave home until just after 6, twenty minutes later than planned. Thankfully it was a good journey over with only minor delays on the M25 and the baffling 'Crooked Billet' roundabout. I got there just on kick off and it was good to meet up with mates and fellow groundhoppers Ryan and his Dad as well as Jason, who goes under the name 'Undercover Hop' on Twitter. I was glad the kick-off was slightly delayed until 6.50 as it meant that I didn't miss any of the game. Timing was tight, which meant I didn't keep up online, but that actually made a pleasant change. The crowd of 25 which included several hoppers would see a game that started in bright sunshine but ended in chilly, dull conditions.



Staines Lammas were the home team and quite a lot higher in the table. They took the lead after a couple of minutes when a good ball found Ross Nunn who rounded the keeper and slotted into the net through a hole in the net saw it come straight back out again. Seven minutes in, the lead was doubled when Tom Hayden's corner was deflected into the net by a Kensington Borough defender. The hosts added a third on 23 minutes, this time the ball was cut back across the six-yard box and Michael Capon put the ball home at the back post. Staines Lammas were running riot and they made it 4-0 on 28 minutes with a goal from Josh Moody who dribbled into the area and finishes past the keeper from around 10 yards. There was a controversial incident five minutes before half-time when Staines Lammas keeper Dawid Gorski was sent off for a 50/50 challenge with a Kensington striker. With the hosts down to ten men, midfielder James Wilson was forced to go in goal and although he guessed correctly the penalty was converted. The visitors failed to take advantage of the extra man and a short back pass on 58 minutes was intercepted by Ross Nunn for the midfielder to get his second of the game to make it 5-1. The hosts completed the scoring on 70 minutes when Mark Goff headed home from a corner. There was still time for chances for both sides, the closest coming when the hosts' stand-in keeper James Wilson made a great save to deny Kensington Borough a consolation goal. I said goodbye to my fellow hoppers, leaving at 8.40 and getting home half an hour later.

You can read fellow groundhopper Ryan's take on the game on his blog, which is available HERE




THE GROUND

The Lucan Recreation Ground is situated in the village of Laleham, not too far from Staines Town FC. There's a pub opposite and also a smart but compact clubhouse at the ground which also does food. There's just about enough parking. The ground itself is rather basic, railed on three sides and with a small area of hard standing. There's no cover, but it's a nice place to watch football and a friendly club.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
Very basic, but adequate for the crowds they get and well-kept (3)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
A nearby pub, but a bit isolated otherwise. Parking OK (6)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Was made to feel welcome (8)

4: Value for money
Wasn't charged, maybe because I arrived bang on kick-off (10) 

5: Social Media & Website
Excellent Twitter, website OK (8)

6: Programme
Didn't get one (-)

7: Game entertainment
Decent, if a little one-sided (7)

8: Tea Bar
Didn't appear to be open on my visit (-)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
Small but smart, had sports TV and a dartboard (6)

10: Club Shop
None (-)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF 70:  48
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.86

GROUND PHOTOS

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Folland Sports - Follands Park


Folland Sports FC
Follands Park
Kings Avenue
Hamble
Southampton
Hampshire
SO31 4NF





Ground Number: 768
Friday 20th April 2018
Folland Sports 5-1 New Milton Town
Wessex League D1







FOLLAND SPORTS - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was formed in 1938 by workers of the Hamble-le-Rice aircraft factory and was initially known as Folland Aircraft. They've been known under a number of names during their history - Aerostructures S&S from 1990 - 1998, Hamble ASSC from 1998 - 2011 and then GE Hamble from 2011 to 2013. They started out in the Hampshire League and remained there until 1987. Folland Sports had a particularly successful spell between 1979 and 1987 when they progressed from Division 4 to Division 1, finishing 3rd in their final season. This allowed them to progress to the Wessex League where they remain to this day. Whilst the league was a single division, finishes ranged from 9th in 1992 to second-bottom on two occasions. In 2004 the league expanded to two divisions and the club struggled in the top tier, eventually being relegated to Division 1 in 2009. They bounced back immediately though, winning Division 1 at the first attempt. Another spell in the Premier Divison followed with Folland Sports enjoying a record 3rd place finish in 2014 behind Sholing and Arlesford. Despite an 8th place finish the following season, the club finished bottom of the Wessex Premier in 2016 and have continued to struggle in Division 1. A 17th place finish last season has been followed up with them sitting bottom and well adrift of safety should there be step 7 teams available to replace them for next season. 

In the FA Cup, the club's best ever season came in the 2010/11 season. That year they beat Christchurch, Longwell Green Sports, Wootton Bassett Town and Old Woodstock Town before a 2-0 defeat at Farnborough in the 3rd Qualifying Round. In the 2012/13 season, they had their best run in the FA Vase - beating Wootton Bassett Town, Winterbourne United, Bristol Academy and Moneyfields before a 2-0 home defeat to fellow Wessex League side Blackfield & Langley in the 3rd Round. Local cup wins include the Southampton Senior Cup three times, the Reg Mathieson Cup twice, the Wessex League Cup in 1998, the Hampshire Senior Cup in 1941 and the Hampshire Intermediate Cup in 1980. Folland Sports are based in Hamble-Le-Rice and despite a population of 4,695 the village is also home to Wessex League rivals Hamble Club, with them playing in the Premier Division at the moment. The village's most famous residents are gangsters Ronnie & Reggie Kray who once owned a cottage in the village although it's unclear if they plied their allegiance to either of the villages teams. 



MY VISIT

I’m always up for a game on a Friday night, providing it’s within a reasonable distance. There were two options tonight - a trip down to Hampshire to see Folland Sports or a revisit to Windsor who were offering free entry for their game against Bracknell. The former was always likely to win and so I did my research and found that I could get a train into Southampton for £5.10 return, fairly reasonable in the grand scheme of things and it meant I could have a couple of pints and dinner somewhere. I also did my research into the history of Folland Sports as I do before every groundhop if I can. The day of the game came and I was up at 4 am as usual for work. Thankfully, it was a fairly easy shift for a Friday and I was out by 12.15. I grabbed myself something from McDonald's and a bottle of diet Irn Bru before going to my car. Unbelievably, some idiot had just dumped their car in the middle of the car park, not even in a space despite there being loads. I was waiting around to see what happened with the car attracting plenty of attention but even after a full half hour of me eating my lunch, having a drink and catching up online, the driver still wasn’t back despite multiple announcements in the store. I wasn’t going to waste my afternoon, even though I was curious as to what this waste product of a human being looked like. I left at 12.50 and the journey wasn’t best. There was half an hours delay in all, thanks to a combination of the M4, M3 and local roads. Eventually, I got to the ground at 2.40, parked up and headed to Hamble station. There was a 45-minute delay on the train, but for once it worked in my favour as I only had to wait less than 10 minutes for an hourly service. The official story was a broken down train, but rumours of a massive punch up on the train in front, resulting in the police being called and the train being stopped seemed more likely in the current world.


So I got to Southampton at 3.20 and my pub stop of The Stable around 20 minutes later. Thanks to a tasting board, I was able to try five new ciders across less than two pints, all new ones, thanks to the Untappd app on my phone. There was a shed load of great pubs in Southampton, but they will have to wait, with me having driving responsibilities later, I wanted to be finished drinking good and early. It was nice though, not to be in a rush and to be able to properly taste my drinks rather than having to hurry. I had a stroll around Southampton and after a stop at Poundland for drinks and crisps, I was on my way. Sod’s law would dictate that I arrived at the station a minute late and would have to wait 59 minutes for my next train and understand the complaints I see on Twitter for such a patchy service. The staff don’t deserve it of course. It’s the folks above that are raking it in and are well protected as they are not the ones that deal with the complaints. The train was slow too, pausing for ages at each station, though I eventually got back to Hamble station at 7.10. Twitter was up the spout too, it was frustrating not to be able to send tweets out. It was only 10 minutes walk to the ground, so I got a basic curry and rice from the local takeaway for £4. I got to the ground 10 minutes before kick off and paid a great value £5 including programme, albeit it an outdated one from the original fixture.

Hosts Folland Sports were not in the greatest of form and were well adrift at the bottom of the table. They'd had to wait until April 7th for their first home win (though it was a notable one as they beat high-flying Alton) and aside from that, they'd not won in 8 out of their last 9 games. New Milton Town meanwhile were struggling for consistency - winning 4 and losing 5 of their last 10 games. It was the visitors who took the lead in the opening few minutes through Dom Falco, though I couldn't see it very well as I was up the other end of the pitch. ON the half-hour mark, it was all square, Sanchez McClean capitalising on sloppy defending to bundle the ball home. New Milton Town had been the better side in the first half but it was Folland Sports who turned it around in the second. First on the hour mark, Lewis Crook gave them the lead with a smart finish from the edge of the area. Then, five minutes later, it was 3-1. This time it was McClean with his second as he caught New Milton keeper Matt Hollier of his line. The custodian was quite rightly furious at his defence after their sloppy defending left him brutally exposed. There was only a couple of minutes to wait for the forth, Ryan Lambert with a shot into the top corner which was very similar to the second. The scoring was completed around 70 minutes in, McClean completing his hat-trick as he converted a square ball across the six-yard box.

After a considerable amount of injury time, it was time to leave. It had been a great night, great value and a friendly welcome at a decent ground. I'd met a couple of fellow groundhoppers who recognised me from the app and my blog. Before I headed for home, I called in at the Chinese to get some chips. Sadly they didn't do salt and chilli ones so I had to make do with plain. They did fill me up for the journey home though, with me leaving at 10. I tuned into the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT which as ever, was brilliant. There were plenty of delays on the way home with closures on the M27 and M3 resulting in local roads getting clogged up. I got home at 11.55, listening to the Two Mikes until 1 before going to sleep at 3 after watching TV and YouTube.

THE GROUND

Follands Park is a ground with plenty of character and it's fairly well kept. There's a seated stand with around 150 capacity and then a further small stand behind one goal, though this is currently being used for storage. Another feature at the ground is a model aeroplane in one corner of the ground - a nod to the fact that the team were formed as part of the Follands aeroplane plant. The rest of the ground has open flat standing with an official capacity of 1,000 but a bigger physical capacity.

There's a basic tea bar at the ground with burgers and bacon rolls but better choice can be had a few minutes from the ground with a Chinese and a chippy. The latter is the better and there is also a Co-Op shop. The bar is spacious and has a reasonable range of drinks though I'm unsure of prices as I didn't buy anything.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
Fairly well kept, lots of character (8)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
Couple of takeaways nearby, station walkable (7)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Was made to feel welcome (7)

4: Value for money
Fiver with a programme was great value (8)

5: Social Media & Website
Website passable, good Twitter (7)

6: Programme
My out of date issue was free with entry. Had the facts, but not much else (6)

7: Game entertainment
Good, but one-sided (6)

8: Tea Bar
OK, but not a huge selection (5)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
Spacious, reasonable range (6)

10: Club Shop
None (-)

TOTAL SCORE OF 90: 60
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.66

GROUND PHOTOS