Friday, 9 March 2018

2018 Stadium #2 - Goff's Lane

Date: 24th February 2018
Stadium: Goff's Lane
Location: Cheshunt, Hertfordshire

My second stadium of 2018 was on Saturday 24th February at Goff's Lane in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. The match was Broxbourne Borough vs. Broadfields United in Spartan South Midlands League Division One.

Goff's Lane is located in the west of Cheshunt a few miles south of Broxbourne itself. The football ground takes up a small section of a larger parcel of land which breaks up the residential sprawl of the area. The main occupants of the site are a school with the football club bordering its western side. To the south of the arena there are additional pitches with roads to the north and west. The ground is a couple of miles west of Cheshunt railway station and has been home to Broxbourne Borough and its predecessors since 1975.

The northern side of Goff's Lane includes the club buildings outside of the football arena. Adjacent to the care park are the clubhouse, changing rooms and a small committee building. The entrance turnstile is located at the end of the car park and emerges in the middle of a covered wooden stand which takes up most of this end. This stand consists of a total of 131 seats split into three sections - 37 seats on the right-hand side of the entrance, 71 seats on the left-hand side of the entrance and 23 seats in the north-east corner for directors and officials. This stand continues round the corner before finishing around one-third of the way down the eastern side of the ground. This eastern section is a wooden terrace which has 2 levels initially before slimming down to a single level as the neighbouring artificial pitch encroaches upon the football arena.

The rest of this side is uncovered standing with the only other thing of note being the two dugouts. This uncovered standing continues at the southern end of the ground where space is at premium due to more neighbouring pitches. The western side has the only other stand in the venue - this large all-seater structure sits by the half-way line. It has 214 seats across 5 rows but has a very high roof requiring 5 supporting beams to hold it up. Apart from this stand the western side is a bit messy and overgrown with a few cordoned off areas. Upon my visit there was a food outlet vehicle near the stand but this was not open during the game. Aside from the stand it is uncovered standing with plenty of space either side of it. This uncovered standing continues round to the area behind the goal at the northern end until it meets the start of the seating area.

There was a clear gulf between the sides in the league table with the visitors twelve spots above the home side at kick-off. Broadfields had the upper hand early on with a succession of corners in the opening minutes though these came to nothing. In an extremely poor half of football there was very little action bar a scramble by the Broxbourne goal just after the half-hour mark. The first meaningful event came in the 41st minute when Broadfields were awarded a penalty after an attacker was struck in the face when a home defender went to head the ball. Harry Henley was the man on duty to take the spot kick and his effort found the goal despite the keeper getting a hand to it on the way in. The away side doubled their lead in the 53rd minute - a forward rode a defender's challenge before his attempt to round the goalie saw the ball palmed away. Fortunately for Broadfields this diversion found its way to a winger who slotted into the empty net as Broxbourne appealed for offside. The home side's best chance came in the 65th minute when a midfielder broke into the area and shot straight at the keeper from close range. Within ten minutes the visitors found themselves 3-0 up as a winger picked up the ball on the edge of the area and managed to get a shot low away as a tackle sent him flying. The shot snuck past the goalkeeper into the bottom corner. Broadfields were cruising by this point and rounded off the scoring in the 82nd minute when Harry Henley grabbed his second. It came about when he gathered the ball on the right, advanced towards the area and shot from 20 yards with the ball bobbling over the diving keeper.

Result: Broxbourne Borough 0-4 Broadfields United
Division: Spartan South Midlands League Division One
Attendance: 10

Friday, 16 February 2018

2018 Stadium #1 - The Homelands

Date: 3rd February 2018
Stadium: The Homelands
Location: Kingsnorth, Kent

My first stadium of 2018 was on Saturday 3rd February at The Homelands in Kingsnorth, Kent. The match was Ashford United vs. Corinthian Casuals in Isthmian League Division One South.

The Homelands is in a rural setting a mile south of the nearest village of Kingsnorth. The football stadium is to the west of Kingsnorth Gold Club and as a result is surrounded by trees except for the southern side where the car park is located. The nearest railway station is Ashford International which is 3 miles north of The Homelands. The venue has been home to the club and its previous incarnations since 1989.

The main stand runs for around half the length of the southern side of the ground and has a capacity of 500. The middle section of the stand is assigned to directors and officials and on the left hand side of the stand there is a food outlet and the players tunnel. The back of the stand is taken up by a spacious bar/clubhouse which looks out over the pitch. There are also six hospitality boxes with three to the east of the bar and three to the west. The rest of this side is uncovered hard standing - the area to the left of the main stand has a wider flat concrete area as well as the entrance turnstiles and a small club shop.

The northern side of the field is rather sparse - the whole side is uncovered with a wide concrete area behind the pitch and more grass behind this. There is an electronic scoreboard around the middle of this side. The two ends are similar in nature - both have a covered 2 level concrete terrace located directly behind the goals with uncovered standing either side of these structures.

There was a fifteen place gulf between the teams in the league table and the game went according to the form book in the first half. Corinthian almost went in front in the 13th minute when a cross from the right saw a goal line scramble before the ball was cleared. A couple of minutes the visitors went close again when later Jordan Clarke squared the ball in the area for Gabriel Odunaike who saw his shot came back off the post. It was not an exciting encounter in the opening period but when the Casuals got their next good chance they took it. The goal came five minutes before the break as the ball was laid off to Max Oldham on the left side of the area and his low shot beat George Kamurasi in the Ashford goal. Into the second half and Corinthian remained on top in the opening quarter-hour and were denied by the post again in the 58th minute. Less than a minute later the hosts had their first meaningful foray into the opposition box when a cross into the area was met with a powerful header from Dean Grant. Away keeper Danny Bracken reacted well to get down and palm the ball away. The hosts made a much better fist of the 2nd half and were a match for their higher place opponents. However a great opportunity to salvage a point was spurned in injury time when Jordan Wright hit the side netting with only Bracken to beat.

Result: Ashford United 0-1 Corinthian Casuals
Division: Isthmian League Division One South
Attendance: 243

Saturday, 3 February 2018

2018 End of Year Review

Total stadiums visited: 46
Number of stadiums visited for the first time: 36
Games seen: 55
Number of goals: 172
Goals per game average: 3.13
Highest number of goals in a game: 8 goals (Gosport Borough 0-8 Basingstoke Town)
Lowest number of goals in a game: 0 goals (Rayo Vallecano 0-0 Reus, Ipswich Town 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers, Team Solent 0-0 Bournemouth, Needham Market 0-0 Leatherhead)
Largest margin of victory: 8 goals (Gosport Borough 0-8 Basingstoke Town)
Highest attendance: 46,473 (Atletico Madrid 3-0 Valencia)
Lowest attendance: 30 (Team Solent 0-0 Bournemouth)
Team most seen: Colchester United (12)
Stadiums by country: England (39), Spain (2), USA (2), Wales (2), France (1)
Stadiums by county: Essex (4), Suffolk (4), County Durham (3), Lincolnshire (3), South Yorkshire (3), West Yorkshire (3), Greater Manchester (2), Hampshire (2), Surrey (2), Cambridgeshire (1), Cheshire (1), East Sussex (1), Gloucestershire (1), Hertfordshire (1), Isle of Wight (1), London (1), Norfolk (1), Northamptonshire (1), North Yorkshire (1), Warwickshire (1), West Midlands (1), West Sussex (1)

Friday, 26 January 2018

2017 Stadium #36 - Turnbull Ground

Date: 26th December 2017
Stadium: Turnbull Ground
Location: Whitby, North Yorkshire

My thirty-sixth stadium of 2017 was on Tuesday 26th December at the Turnbull Ground in Whitby, North Yorkshire. The match was Whitby Town vs. Farsley Celtic in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

The Turnbull Ground is located in the north of the town just a street away from the promenade and the slope down towards the North Sea. It is in a predominantly residential area with housing surrounding the stadium on the northern, eastern and southern ends. On the western side the club are neighbours to Whitby Cricket Club. The venue is three-quarters of a mile north-west of the poorly served Whitby railway station and has been home to the club since 1929.

The stadium is dominated by a 505-seat stand on the western side of the ground. This is a little over a decade old with the seating section elevated above the pitch and the interior of the stand underneath this. The positioning of the stand allows a narrow flat concrete standing area to be retained in front of it. The stand straddles the half-way line and to the south of it is a snack bar, the entrance turnstiles and a club building with the players dressing rooms. Adjacent to the north of the stand is an uncovered concrete terrace. Behind the stadium outside the main entrance is a small car park and a clubhouse containing a bar.

There is a covered six row concrete terrace for around half the length of the eastern side of the Turnbull Ground. The two dugouts sit in front of the stand with the rest of the eastern section taken up by uncovered concrete standing. The northern and southern areas are fairly narrow due to the housing bordering both ends of the complex so there is only room for uncovered hard standing behind the goals. Due to the proximity of the residential areas there is netting the whole way along these ends to prevent balls hitting houses.

Whitby started the 90 minutes on a dreadful run of 15 games without a win and within the first 60 seconds they almost fell a goal behind when poor defending saw Nathan Cartman ghost in behind the backline. Cartman just had the keeper to beat but dragged his shot wide from 12 yards. The hosts had their best opportunity of the half in the 18th minute when Lewis Maloney's free-kick fell at the feet of Junior Mondal and his quick shot was straight at Farlsey keeper Graeme McKibbin with the ball bouncing off him before being headed away. In the 26th minute Dan Cockerline crossed the ball from the right wing into the area for Nathan Turner who took a shot which was saved and bundled in by Nathan Cartman on the rebound. Farsley weren't celebrating for long though as a check over to the touch line showed the linesman's flag was up for offside. A poor first half petered out after that with little of note happening until the first goal of the game arrived in the 57th minute. Unsurprisingly it was the visitors who got as the ball was out played out wide left to Paul Walker who cut inside before curling a great shot in off the far post. The lead was then doubled in the 62nd minute - Isaac Baldwin played a neat 1-2 with Paul Walker down the left before crossing from the byline for Dan Cockerline to tap in on the line. The home side was given some hope in the 84th minute when Farlsey were reduced to ten men when Lewis Turner deliberately pulled down Junior Mondale as he raced towards the area. Whitby had more input into the game after this and in the 94th minute were awarded a spot kick when Isaac Baldwin clumsily felled Kieran Weledji as he attempted to intercept the ball on the far side of area. Luke Bythway took the kick but his poor penalty to Graeme McKibbin's right was saved summing up a forgettable day for Whitby.

Result: Whitby Town 0-2 Farsley Celtic
Division: Northern Premier League Premier Division
Attendance: 369

Friday, 19 January 2018

2017 Stadium #35 - Hall Lane

Date: 26th December 2017
Stadium: Hall Lane
Location: Willington, County Durham

My thirty-fifth stadium of 2017 was on Tuesday 26th December at Hall Lane in Willington, County Durham. The match was Willington vs. Tow Law Town in Northern League Division Two.

Hall Lane is close to the centre of the small town of Willington and is surrounded by housing on all sides. The ground is 4 miles north of the nearest railway station at Bishop Auckland and 7.5 miles south-west of the nearest major railway station at Durham.

Spectators enter via the eastern side of the ground and there is a nice clubhouse building by the turnstiles. Directly in front of this is a small parking area before reaching the actual arena. This side has the Jackie Foster Terrace - an uncovered 4-row concrete terrace with one dugout in front of it. To the right of the terrace is a secondary club building with dressing rooms and a tea hut facing out towards the terrace. The roof of this building extends out slightly towards the pitch allowing a covered section with a handful of seats for players and officials. The the right of this is the second dugout and then an area of uncovered standing in front of a fairly flat grass bank.

The other three sides are all at the foot of a grass bank which encircles the ground. The largest stand at the venue takes up the middle third of the western side of the pitch. This structure has 5 rows of wooden benches fixed onto concrete foundations and has a capacity of 350. There are several supporting beams holding up the roof and two floodlight poles in front of the stand all of which restrict views to an extent. Either side of this there is uncovered standing. The southern end has a covered 4 row metal terrace directly behind the goal with uncovered standing either side and it is a similar set-up at the northern end with a single stand behind the goal. This construction, the Bob Nichols Stand, is a covered flat concrete area.

The away side went into the game one place outside the promotion places but struggled on the day against their mid-table opponents. The early going was marked by several strong tackles flying in from both sides. Fortunately rather than boiling a football match soon broke out as Willington went close in the 17th minute when Jeffrey Smith's delicate chip from 25 yards was just tipped over by Tow Law keeper Tom Orton. The visiting shotstopper was called into action again a couple of minutes later when a corner was headed towards goal requiring Orton to save on the line to keep the score level. Willington continued to have the upper hand and took the lead in the 35th minute. Jason White picked up the ball on the left and smartly cut inside beating two defenders in the process. Advancing on goal he rode a third challenge before striking a strong shot at Orton who saved but unfortunately for Tow Law the ball bounced back to Conor Winter who smashed into the roof of the net. In the period after the break it was the hosts again looking strong, it should have been 2-0 in the 58th minute when the ball broke to Jeffrey Smith on the left of the area but with only the keeper to beat he produced a tame shot which was easily saved. The respite lasted only a minute as Andrew Taylor got down the byline on the left and his low ball across found Damon Ellis who knocked in from a couple of yards out. To be fair Tow Law reacted to going 2-0 down and so nearly got a goal back in the 66th minute when a Lewis Teasdale free-kick came back off the post. The visitors had the perfect chance to reduce the areas with a quarter of an hour remaining when Teasdale was tripped during a scramble in the six-yard box. Dean Thexton struck the ensuing penalty kick to Lewis Graham's right but the Willington keeper guessed right and deflected the ball away to safety. This knocked the stuffing out of Tow Law and they were fortunate not to concede two minutes later when Damon Ellis' one-on-one encounter with Orton resulted in his weak shot being saved. If there was any doubt as to the result this was stamped out in injury time as the ball was played into Conor Winter from the right. Winter had plenty of time to control the ball and though his first effort was saved the ball fell at his feet again and this time he rounded the keeper and knocked the ball into the net to finish off a great 3-0 win for Willington.

Result: Willington 3-0 Tow Law Town
Division: Northern League Division Two
Attendance: 165

Friday, 12 January 2018

2017 Stadium #34 - Belle View Stadium

Date: 23rd December 2017
Stadium: Belle View Stadium
Location: Consett, County Durham

My thirty-fourth stadium of 2017 was on Saturday 23rd December at Belle View Stadium in Consett, County Durham. The match was Consett vs. Stockton Town in Northern League Division One.

Belle View Stadium is in the south of the town in a mixed-use area with a retail unit to the south, housing to the west and fields to the north and west. The nearest railway station is Stocksfield, some ten miles north of the ground. The £3m venue became home to Consett in November 2013 when they left the new ground's namesake Belle View Park where they had played for the previous 63 years.

The southern side of the ground has an impressive clubhouse to the west of the half-way line which houses a 170 square metre function room, a bar, boardroom and dressing rooms. There is a flat concrete section separating it from the pitch and the building's roof is extended out over this to provide an additional covered viewing area. This area has had several picnic benches added to it so seating is an option as well. The centre of the southern side has the entrance and a flat concrete section in front of this followed by the two dugouts. Finally heading towards the eastern end there is a metal all-seater stand with 140 seats spread across 4 rows.

The other stand at the ground is a smaller all-seater one straddling the half-way line on the northern side of the pitch. This structure has 95 seats spread across its 4 rows. Beyond this the Belle View Stadium is uncovered standing though there are decently sized areas for it across the northern, eastern and western ends of the venue. This is a smart new venue and with the 3G pitch and reasonable space to build additional stands should they ever be required the club should be in good stead for the future.

Consett went into the game in good form having won six of their previous seven in all competitions. The form guide appeared accurate early on as they raced into the lead in the 9th minute. A Stockton defender was dispossessed on the edge of his own area, the ball was laid back to Calvin Smith who struck a sweet 20 yard shot into the top corner giving the keeper no chance. The lead was doubled in the 22nd minute after a quick counter-attack from a Stockton corner saw Josh Scott make his way down the left and cross to the back post where Michael Mackay rifled in from close range. The game was almost put to bed in the 35th minute when the ball was played out to Michael Sweet on the left and his shot across goal hit the post before bouncing away to safety. Stockton did show some intent during the first half but their defensive naivety saw them getting caught out. In the 55th minute they were thrust back into the tie when Kevin Hayes picked up the ball near the half-way line, rode two challenges and smashed a 35 yard effort into the roof of the net. This proved the catalyst for an extraordinary five minute spell where the away side turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead. The equaliser arrived in the 57th minute when the ball broke to Sonni Coleman on the far side of the danger zone and his unexpected quick turn and shot went in off the bottom of the post. The turnaround was complete just before the hour mark when the ball went to Chris Stockton on the left hand side and his fizzed shot across goal from 15 yards went in off the post. It was a remarkable few minutes for the visitors and they dominated this period of the match playing some really nice football. Consett finally got out of their own half shortly after and thought they had made it 3-3 in the 67th minute as a cross into the box was nodded onto Michael Mackay by Michael Sweet. Mackay stroked past the keeper from a couple of yards out only to see the official's flag stretched out. Much of the final spell of the game was spent in Stockton's third of the pitch as Consett hunted for the leveller. They huffed and puffed and went close a couple of times but they were unable to break down a Stockton defence that had become more organised in the 2nd half.

Result: Consett 2-3 Stockton Town
Division: Northern League Division One
Attendance: 377

Friday, 5 January 2018

2017 Stadium #33 - Miners Welfare Ground (Swallownest)

Date: 5th December 2017
Stadium: Miners Welfare Ground
Location: Swallownest, South Yorkshire

My thirty-third stadium of 2017 was on Tuesday 5th December at the Miners Welfare Ground in Swallownest, South Yorkshire. The match was Swallownest vs. Armthorpe Welfare in the Northern Counties East League Division One.

The Miners Welfare Ground is located on the edge of the village of Swallownest a few miles from Sheffield and Rotherham. It counts a church and a primary school as its eastern neighbours though the other three sides of the ground are bordered by fields. The ground is 1.5 miles east of the nearest railway station at Woodhouse. However with this station receiving very limited services the nearest major stations are Rotherham 5.5 miles north and Sheffield 7 miles west. The club only formed in 2006 and moved to the current venue in 2008.

The eastern end of the ground contains all the club's facilities. This includes a clubhouse with a decking area which faces out towards the car park and a building containing the players and officials dressing rooms - this sees the players emerge to the right of the turnstile entrance. Inside the ground there is a food outlet by the entrance and next to this the sole stand in the venue. At present there are no seating areas at the Welfare Ground with the stand a two-level concrete terrace which is covered by a roof. In front of this most of the eastern end is an area of flat concrete with this changing to grass heading towards the northern end of the ground.

The northern and southern side are both uncovered standing - the northern side has a fairly large flat grass area behind with the southern side is more limited on space having a grass bank and the trees marking the border of the site behind this. The two dugouts are on this side of the venue. The western end is not accessible for spectators with metal fencing just behind the goal separating the pitch from an adjacent field.

Swallownest got the ball in the net in the 13th minute when a long free-kick by keeper Daryll Johnson was nodded onto a defender who struck the ball home. However the goal was ruled out for offside. The away side had a super chance to go ahead in the 16th minute when Johnson misjudged a cross and missed the ball with it falling to Chris Simpkins who with the goal gaping snatched at the shot and saw the ball come back off the crossbar. The game saw its first goal in the 24th minute - Swallownest had been threatening to get in behind the Armthorpe defence and managed it with a through ball to Alex Lill who collided with visiting keeper Liam Copley in the race to the ball. The referee allowed play to continue and Lill proceeded to stroke the ball into the empty net. Ten minutes later Armthorpe drew level in very similar circumstances when a through ball picked out the pacey Luke Williams who slotted past the advancing Johnson. The decent first half made way for a poor second half that was devoid of action - the home side had the upper hand and came closest in the 68th minute when a corner was headed inches wide. The game ultimately petered out to a draw, a result which didn't particularity help either side with both sitting in mid-table.

Result: Swallownest 1-1 Armthorpe Welfare
Division: Northern Counties East League Division One
Attendance: 128