Sunday, 18 February 2018

Ossett Town - Ingfield



Ossett Town FC
Ingfield
Prospect Road
Ossett
West Yorkshire
WF5 9HA









Ground Number: 756
Saturday 17th February 2018
Ossett Town 0-2 Hyde United
NPL D1 North







OSSETT TOWN - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was formed in 1936 with their early years being spent in the West Yorkshire League and the Heavy Woolen League. After World War 2, they joined the Yorkshire League. Fortunes varied wildly as more divisions were added with highs of 6th in the top tier in 1951 and 1979 to a low of 8th in the third tier in 1971. In 1982 a reorganization of the non-league system was implemented and Ossett Town were placed in the Northern Counties East League. Various moves happened, the club eventually being placed in  Division 2. Ossett Town were promoted to Division 1 as champions in 1989, with a 3rd place finish behind Rowntree Mackintosh & Liversedge the following year being good enough for promotion to the Premier Division. They'd remain here for a decade, with a runners-up spot behind local rivals Ossett Albion being good enough for promotion to the NPL D1 in 1999. They adapted to their new league well, finishing as runners-up behind Harrogate Town in 2002. However, they were denied promotion due to the required ground improvements being completed 12 hours too late, even with the delay being due to inclement weather. In 2004, promotion was finally earned due to reorganisation following the introduction of the Conference North & South. A seven-season spell in the NPL Premier followed, with a best-ever finish of 10th in 2007. Since relegation in 2011, the club has played in NPL D1 North. Last season was their best since returning, a 4th place finish ended with a 4-2 defeat to Farsley Celtic in the playoff final. This season has seen the side in mid-table, with an outside chance of making the playoffs with a good run of results.

In the FA Cup, Ossett Town has reached the 4th Qualifying Round twice, firstly in 2005 when they lost 3-2 at home to Leamington, then this season when they lost in a replay after gaining an excellent draw at Conference outfit Solihull Moors, missing out on a home game against Wycombe Wanderers in the process. The club made their FA Trophy debut at the turn of the century, losing 1-0 to Doncaster Rovers in the 2nd Round. The FA Vase 5th Round was reached in 1999, a 2-1 defeat at home to North Ferriby United ending their run. Local cup wins include the NCEL League Cup in 1990, the West Riding Senior Cup in 1950 and two West Riding County Cups. The club's record attendance of 2,600 came for a 1988 friendly in which Lee Sharpe made his debut.

The town of Ossett has a population of 21,131 according to the 2011 census. The town has a history in coal mining and was also home to software house Team17 who produced the computer game 'Worms' with a number of references to the town included in the game. Famous people from Ossett include the pop group 'Black Lace' and actress Helen Worth who plays Gail Platt in Coronation Street. A number of people in football have connections to Ossett, including current referee Bobby Madeley. The most well-known footballer to turn out for the side is former Newcastle defender John Beresford. Currently, singer Jake Quickenden plays for the club, but the most valuable player to the club is Derrick Blackburn. His sale to Swansea Town netted the club a cool £1,350, a significant sum back in 1957 and one that allowed the club to purchase their current ground.



MY VISIT

I'd been wanting to visit Ossett Town for a while, owing to some good pre-match options in the way of pubs amongst other things. I'd nearly been back in October for their FA Cup 4th Qualifying replay with Solihull Moors but I couldn't persuade fellow hoppers to come and help me out with fuel costs. I was disappointed when they lost out to the Conference team, as it meant I couldn't go with Wycombe either after we were drawn away to the winners of the replay. The need to visit was accelerated last week with a merger between Town, and their local rivals Ossett Albion. I'd been to their rivals a couple of years ago, getting there right on kick-off as a flurry of late postponements meant a last minute dash for a game. I really enjoyed my time there, including some very nice pork pies and regretted that I didn't have more time to spend there. Unusually for me, I acted quickly to get the ground in before its potential demise, booking a hotel and arranging a trip within half an hour of seeing the tweet. I'd be seeing a game at Nostell Miners Welfare on the Friday and even Rochdale v Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday after I was lucky enough to secure a ticket.



I'd chosen not to go out on the town the night before the game, but I was still up until just after 1 am after listening to the Two Mikes whilst typing my blog. I woke at 7 am having had a semi-decent night's sleep. I stayed in bed, catching up online and uploading last night's blog. After having a shower, getting dressed and watching some YouTube videos, I went out at around 10, having been just a little bit too late to get the previous bus. I was expecting to be visiting a few pubs today, but that would come later, first off I fancied a look around Wakefield. I took a slow walk around town while I listened to the Two Mikes. After buying a Fiery Mexican chicken sub from PoundBakery for my breakfast as well as F1 2010 for the PS3 for 20p, I started my journey to Ossett.



I caught the 11.30 bus, getting to Ossett just before 12. I had 3 pubs earmarked, although 2 of them were just for food really. My first port of call was the excellent Bier Huis. Really an off license that you could also sit in, this was ‘Independent Cider Retailer Of The Year 2017’. A bold claim, but a well deserved one, as it had a huge range of bottles, this would prove useful for later as I wanted to take some home with me. I’d been restricted to cans of Strongbow yesterday and if they were bland, my first pint of the day was anything but. Udders Orchard Brigantia was a medium dry and had an impressive depth for something at 5%. Plus it was made just down the road in Huddersfield, a well-known mecca for discerning drinkers. Next up, I had to move to bottled cider, but another from Udders Orchard, one called Luddite was even better. Dry, just like I like it, it was well worth £2.95 a bottle. I passed the time by watching Sheffield Wednesday v Swansea City on the excellent SkorLive website, a great recommendation I'd found thanks to YouTuber Dr Squiffy. My third and final pint before going in search of food was a Naylor's Black Cherry. A bit too sour for my liking compared to my previous cherry beers, I was determined to finish it off before I went. I couldn’t find anything decent with a brief walk around Ossett, so paid a tenner to get into the ground including my £2 programme. After getting a spicy chicken burger and chips for £3.50 I went in the bar, getting a pint of Old Rosie for £3. It was clearly out of the box that I’d got for £15 from Morrisons on Black Friday but I was glad to support their venture. Before the game, it was back to the tea bar for a portion of Chilli & Chips for £3. The first half was pretty dull, but I popped out to a shop to get a drink of Irn Bru at halftime. A quickfire double from Luke Porritf gave the visitors a commanding two-goal lead at the start of the second half but it was harsh on Ossett as there wasn't much in the way of chances. That was how it stayed until the end, with neither side offering much in the way of inspiration.



After the game, I went to the Beer Huis to pick up some bottles for the evening, something nice obtained to have with MOTD. From there it was a bus back to Wakefield, I called in at the Hop, having a pint of Bad Apple. It was one I’d not had for a while, in fact not since I was here a year ago. I took my time over it, almost an hour in fact, before moving on. Next stop was Harry’s Bar. Here I had a Hallets Perry amongst friendly locals, though it was another repeat for me. From there I went in search of dinner, having a very good half pound chilli burger with fries for £4.50 from some random Asian place. I put the bus station in Google Maps, as it was a good mile away, I was expecting to bump into a decent pub on the way back, but that turned out not to be the case. I got back to my room at 9.40, having had a good day and with most of my electricals needing a good charge. I watched the goal rush and Match Of The Day with a bottle of cider before getting into bed around midnight.



THE GROUND

INGFIELD was a ground I first visited on 21st April 2007, stopping to get pictures on the way up to Wycombe's game at Darlington. I was impressed with the ground, the seated stand being unusually behind one goal, in addition to extensive terracing, which included 2 further covered areas. At the ground, facilities are excellent with both bar and tea bar being well above average. The ground is excellently located for the town with the Beer Huis micropub and off license being a couple of minutes from the ground.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
A decent ground for the level (7)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)

Free street parking, excellent public transport links and right in the town (9)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness

The usual friendly welcome (7)

4: Value for money

£8 was OK (6)

5: Social Media & Website
Both well updated (7)

6: Programme

Had all the essentials and a bit to read (6)

7: Game entertainmen

A fairly dull contest (4)

8: Tea Bar

One of the best I've been to, plenty of choices and good prices (9)

9: Bar / Clubhouse

Smart, had real cider and TV football (8)

10: Club Shop

Fairly limited range available in the tea bar (5)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF A POSSIBLE 100: 68
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.8


GROUND PHOTOS


Saturday, 17 February 2018

Nostell Miners Welfare - The Crofton Centre




Nostell Miners Welfare FC
Welfare Ground
The Crofton Centre
Middle Lane
Crofton
Wakefield
West Yorkshire
WF4 1LB









Ground Number: 755
Friday 16th February 2018
Nostell MW 4-1 Selby Town
NCEL D1







NOSTELL MW - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was founded in 1928 and spent their early years in the Wakefield & District League, winning it in 1938. After a spell in the West Yorkshire League where they won a League & Cup double in 1967. Shortly after, they returned to the Wakefield & District League where they stayed until 1982. That year they rejoined the West Yorkshire League, eventually working their way up to the Premier Division in 1997. A third-place finish at the turn of the century was a great showing and 5 years later Nostell Miners Welfare were crowned champions. The following season, another 3rd place finish was good enough for promotion to the Northern Counties East League in 2006. Starting in Division 1, Nostell were an immediate success, finishing 4th and winning promotion to the Premier Division. The following season, 2007/08 was the most successful in the club's history, with a 5th place finish. They'd remain in the Premier Division until 2016 when they finished rock bottom. Last season was even worse, just 3 wins all season and 132 goals conceded as the club finished bottom of Division 1. This season has seen a slight improvement with Nostell Miners Welfare sitting 18th after last weekend's games. 

The club made their FA Cup bow in 2008 when they drew 3-3 at North West Counties League side Winsford United. The replay was won 2-1 before a defeat to Warrington Town after a replay in the Preliminary Round which remains their best ever progress. The FA Vase 3rd Round was reached in 2008 - Poulton Victoria, Ashton Athletic and Ryton being beaten before a 1-0 defeat at Stone Dominoes. In terms of local cups, the NCEL Presidents Cup was lifted in 2009, the West Yorkshire League Cup in 1967 as well as a cup whilst touring Belgium in the 1950's.

The club as formed as a result of coal mining at the pit of Nostell, which started in the 9th century and continued up until 1987. Many workers there moved to the Selby Coalfield, but that itself closed in 2004.  The club is actually based in the village of Crofton, which according to the 2011 census has a population of 5,781. Today it is seen as a commuter village, but still boasts post offices, schools, chip shops and an Indian restaurant amongst its facilities. It is also well connected by bus to the nearest city, Wakefield, which is around 4 miles away. Famous people from the village include the Bronte sisters, Sir Titus Salt, who built the mills of Saltaire and lends his name to a Wetherspoons pub in Bradford as well as footballer Harry Roberts who played for Leeds United, Plymouth Argyle and  Bristol Rovers between 1925 and 1939.



MY VISIT

Back in January, I booked this weekend off work and with Wycombe playing at Cheltenham, a ground I had recently visited, I was always planning a trip away. There were a wealth of options, around 15 in all, but I narrowed it down to 3 favorites for my Friday night game. Aberystwyth Town was a ground I had wanted to visit for ages, but that ruled itself out due to expensive accommodation - the cheapest B&B starting at £45. The other 2 options, Nostell Miners Welfare and Billingham Synthonia were level pegging until a proposed merger between Ossett Town and Ossett Albion forced my hand. Having visited Albion, but not Town, I was well aware that one of those could quickly cease to be used should the merger go ahead. After checking the fixtures and seeing that Ossett Town were at home, I booked a hotel less than 2 miles from Nostell Miners Welfare's ground for just £21 a night, that of course after checking that the weather would not put the game into doubt.




It had been a fairly dull week leading up to the game, though I was pleased when Wycombe beat Swindon 3-2 on the Tuesday in another good game. Generally, though, the week dragged, especially with work being a pain again. Despite giving 18 years service, they expected me and hundreds of other colleagues to cut their hours down to part-time and lose £400 a month, just to save the company a few quid. The managers at my store were as nice as they could be, but overall, I feel I work for a nasty, cynical, greedy, selfish firm who couldn't care less about how their penny pinching affects people who have given them good service. It was a fairly busy day at work and I was pretty tired by the time I left, having a spicy chicken wrap and chips before I left at 1. The journey up was a pain, featuring several route changes due to the roads being dreadful and taking 4 hours. It ruined any pre-match plans that I had, with a brief stop at Co-Op to get some cans meaning that I got to my hotel at 5. It was a bit tricky to find, with absolutely no signposting. Luckily I remembered a note from a TripAdvisor about it being behind an Indian restaurant and shortly after I was checked in. There was a bit of confusion about what room I was supposed to be in, but it was all very friendly. I checked out the restaurant on Google and it looked fine, so I decided that I'd have my dinner there. After necking a couple of cans of Strongbow while I watched Pointless and started this blog, I went downstairs for dinner. There, I had a Punjabi Taste Curry, lemon rice, meat samosa and a Strongbow for £15.50 which was all decent.




After going back to my room, I started walking to the ground just before 7. I got there at 7.40, paying £5 to get in, plus & 1.50 for a programme and team sheet. After walking around the ground, I settled down to watch the game. Nostell Miners Welfare had been hammered 8-1 in the reverse fixture, but it didn’t show in the balance of play. The hosts had plenty of the game but suffered from a lack of quality in the main. On 29 minutes a looping cross from the left was not cleared properly and it was left to Billy Mole to rifle into the roof of the net. A few minutes after the Nostell keeper Neil May came charging out of the area, took down a Selby man with a clumsy challenge but was only given a yellow due to a defender covering. It was 2-0 on 43 minutes, a scrappy goal by Jack Owen doubling the hosts lead. A minute later it was 3-0 and the shock result was on the cards, this time it was Owen capitalizing on the left-hand side as the Selby defenders had gone AWOL. It was still a decent finish though and a deserved result with the form book turned well and truly on its head. The  Sandwiched between the goals was a rash challenge by a Selby man, probably in revenge for the earlier goalkeeper clattering. The offender too got a yellow card. At halftime, I got a Minestrone Soup and got some pictures of the inside of the ground before coming out for the second half. The game slowed down, pace-wise, but it was now Selby with the majority of the play, but not really threatening. Selby eventually did pull one back, it was a lovely curling shot into the top corner by Joe Dale. The game was confirmed a few minutes from time, a low cross from the left on the break found an unmarked Jack Owen who slotted into an empty net from just outside the six-yard box, thus completing his hat-trick. An unhappy Selby fan voiced his opinion ‘You shouldn’t be allowed to pull the shirt on again, you shower of sh*t’ he told his team’s well-beaten players.


A post shared by Russell Cox (@russ_wwfc) on

It wasn't until nearly 10 that the game finished, due to the 8PM kick off and lots of injury time. The crowd was 127 and they would have enjoyed a decent nights football, though the visiting fans would have been disappointed with their team, a good few of them making the effort to get across on this Friday night. I really wanted to go into town, but it would have meant a 25-minute wait for the last bus and then having to pay for a taxi back. Though I was keen to tick a couple off of my shortlist of pubs, I decided to go back to my room. I got back at 10.35, having a couple of cans and typing my blog while listening to the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT. I was annoyed that I couldn't upload my blog due to poor signal, but I fell asleep pretty quick at 1 am.



THE GROUND

THE WELFARE GROUND is a typical step 6 venue, with all the cover along the one side. There's a seated stand, this is elevated above pitch level and holds around 100. You can get good views from here. Alongside it is some overhanging cover from the club building. The rest of the ground is open hard standing. There's a spacious bar at the ground with sports TV, plus a decent tea bar. Within easy walking distance are a chippy, 2 pubs, and  2 shops.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)

Fairly standard (6)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)

A few choices, a reasonable amount of parking (6)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness

A nice welcome all around the ground (7)

4: Value for money
Good solid value for step 6 (7)

5: Social Media & Website

A good interactive and informative Twitter feed. (8)

6: Programme
Had all the essentials, well designed (6)

7: Game entertainment
A decent contest (7)

8: Tea Bar
A decent selection at good prices (8)

9: Bar/Clubhouse

Smart, the usual range of drinks (6)

10: Club Shop
None (N/A)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF 90: 61
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.77

GROUND PHOTOS

Friday, 2 February 2018

Cornard United - Blackhorse Lane



Cornard United
Blackhouse Lane
Great Cornard
Sudbury
Suffolk
CO10 0NL









Ground Number: 754
Friday 2nd February 2018
Cornard United 1-3 AFC Sudbury Reserves
Eastern Counties D1








CORNARD UNITED - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was founded in 1964 and spent their formative years in various leagues such as the Sudbury Sunday League, Bury & District League and the Colchester & East Essex League. Joining the Essex & Suffolk Border League in 1976, they progressed through the divisions, making the step into senior football in 1989. Joining the Eastern Counties League, the first season was a huge success, with the side being crowned champions at the first attempt. A six-season spell in the Premier Division followed, with the club's best ever finish of 3rd coming in the 1991/92 season. Results gradually tailed off though and after a few seasons of struggle, Cornard United were finally relegated in 1996 after finishing bottom. They've remained in Division 1 ever since, but have generally struggled, with finishes ranging from 9th in 1999 to three consecutive bottom place finishes between 2011 and 2013. This season has been above average by the low standards set - 13th at the time of writing and a real possibility of matching their best finish this century if results go their way.

The best ever run in the FA Cup most recently came in the 2008/09 season when Whitton United & Ipswich Wanderers were both beaten after replays before a 5-0 home defeat to Leiston in the 1st Qualifying Round. This season also saw the best run in the FA Vase - Eynesbury United and Wisbech Town were beaten before a 2nd Round defeat at Wivenhoe Town. Local honours include the Suffolk Senior Cup and the Essex & Suffolk Border League Cup in 1989 and the Eastern Floodlit Cup in 2002. The biggest attendance at the ground came in 2001 for a friendly against West Ham United. The 2011 census put the population of Great Cornard at 8,908 with the most famous former resident being Perry Groves, who played for junior side Cornard Dynamoes before going on to play for Arsenal.



MY VISIT


This local derby between Cornard United and AFC Sudbury Reserves had first been suggested to me by Milton Keynes based hopper Chris, who fancied doing the game. I was keen too, so we pencilled it in. However, in the week before, he pulled out, due to other commitments. I still fancied it though, and with it being so close to Braintree, I thought it would be a great chance to catch up with some mates in that part of the world. Sadly Dan pulled out thanks to his selfish employer calling him in at short notice, but I'd seen him fairly recently anyway. I also contacted follow hopper Anwar to see if he could come - I could easily pop by Aylesbury on the way and the help with fuel money and company would be most welcome. Sadly, he was unwilling to help, due to concerns with the weather and no backups in place. It was something that I'd have to bear in mind and check before I left, but at least Josh and Maurice had confirmed their attendance. 

I must admit to having second thoughts and thinking of not bothering on the day of the game. However, once it was confirmed that the game was on, I decided to place my trust in the club and make the journey. It had been a busy day at work, though extra help was drafted in and I was finished by 1. I came home, had lunch and a bath and relaxed for a couple of hours. Thanks to the 'Wuntu' app on my phone, I was planning to eat at a Mexican place called Las Iguanas before meeting my pals, the app had an offer that allowed me to have a Burrito for £3 rather than the usual £12. At least that was the plan if the traffic went well or I managed to persuade Anwar to come. Amazingly, the latter happened with me planning to pick him up from Princes Risborough at 4.30. It would be tight, but we'd have 45 minutes to play with, so I was hoping the M25 would behave. After getting my stuff together, I left at 4 and thanks to a good journey was in Princes Risborough by 4.20. Luckily, Anwar was there waiting for me and soon enough we were on our way. It was a fairly decent journey, just a couple of minor hold-ups. We were in Braintree by 6.10 and with time fairly tight, we decided on picking some stuff up from Lidl. I got myself a couple of veggie pizzas for £1, some chicken for £2, plus some cider for when I got home later. By 6.25, we were with Maurice, 20 minutes later we were in Finchingfield to meet Josh, my first meet with these two for 11 months. It was a journey along some pretty woeful twisting and turning roads that took us ages to navigate, especially behind a dawdling Citroen.



We got to the ground at 7.20 and went straight in. The entry was £6 and a basic programme was £1. After catching up on Twitter, I walked around getting some pictures of the ground before going to the tea bar to get a decent portion of chips for £1.50. As for the game, it was a bright start for the hosts, but they soon faded and the game got to half time without either keeper being overly troubled. The second half started much the same, a single chance for Cornard before the game drifted into mediocrity. It seemed as if we were all set for a dull goalless draw until the hosts opened the scoring with a low shot from the edge of the area. It was a mistake from the Cornard goalkeeper that allowed Nathan Read to equalise, the custodian being caught in possession leaving an empty net for Read to shoot into. Soon after, AFC Sudbury were ahead, a well-worked move down the right allowed Liam Bennett to take a great first touch and finish from a tight angle. The hosts only had themselves to blame after looking well in control and as they pushed forward for an equaliser, the visitors made sure of the points with the third. This time it was Adam Hanson finished a good run with a tidy left foot finish from inside the area.



It was probably a deserved victory for Sudbury's reserves, even though they took a while to get going. It was 9.45 by the time we left, I opted to go to Braintree first this time. Thankfully, the roads were a lot better and we dropped Maurice off by 10.15. By 10.30 I was saying my goodbyes to Josh and heading back to Aylesbury. The Two Mikes on TalkSPORT kept me company on the way back, as Anwar was asleep. It passed really quickly thanks to a great show and by 11.55 I was dropping Anwar off, having completed my 99th game of the season. No doubt we will meet tomorrow before Wycombe v Carlisle, it's good having great football mates. I was wide awake still, getting home 20 minutes later. I listened to the rest of the Two Mikes with a few cans, before watching my YouTube videos. Despite having woken at 4 am the previous morning, I was still wired and so I took the opportunity to type my blog, getting to sleep almost 24 hours after I'd woken up.



THE GROUND


BLACKHORSE LANE is a fairly standard step 6 setup. There's a decent sized stand, holding maybe 200 on bench seating. This offers good views and decent legroom. The only other cover is the overhang on the clubhouse, this keeps around another 100 under cover. The rest of the ground is open, a capacity of around 1500 overall. The bar is fairly mediocre, but the tea hut is well above average for this level, offering a great range at decent prices. There's a good amount of the parking, but it does seem a bit in the middle of nowhere.

SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)

Fairly standard (6)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)

Good car parking. but in the middle of nowhere (5)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness

Standard (6)

4: Value for money
Slightly above average, but not unreasonable (6)

5: Social Media & Website

Decent on both counts (8)

6: Programme

Basic, but only £1 (6)

7: Game entertainment
Dull for the most part, but a good ending (6)

8: Tea Bar

Well above average for this level (8)

9: Bar / Clubhouse

Drinks range limited (5)

10: Club Shop
None (-)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF A POSSIBLE 90: 56
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.22


GROUND PHOTOS