Friday 27 May 2022

Ground #368 - Shoemakers Lane

Date: 23rd April 2022
Location: Swaffham, Norfolk
Ground: Shoemakers Lane

My eighth new ground of 2022 was on Saturday 23rd April at Shoemakers Lane in Swaffham, Norfolk. The game was Swaffham Town vs. Whitton United in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division.

Shoemakers Lane is located in the west of Swaffham - it has undeveloped land to the north and west with fields beyond the road to the south. The only neighbours are a house to the west and Swaffham Cricket Club to the east. The venue is around 15 miles from the nearest railway stations at Downham Market to the west and King's Lynn to the north-west. It has been home to the club since 1959.

The ground has a couple of seated areas with a small stand on the western side of the field which has 60 seats spread across three rows. The rest of this side has just a gravel walkway for its length so nothing else of note. The other seating is behind the southern goal with two rows of seating with 13 seats on the back row and 50 in the front row. This stand takes up the middle half of this end with uncovered seating either side. Behind the stand is a grass area with picnic benches and then an enjoyable clubhouse which is decorated with many football scarves from across the world.

The remainder of the ground is more basic with the eastern side consisting mostly of uncovered standing bar a covered bus stop type structure set back from the pitch. There are also two brick dugouts positioned either side of the halfway line. The northern end has a strip of concrete to mark hard standing and a large grass area behind it. 

The game was the last one of the season for both sides - the hosts were finishing off a season to forget with 31 defeats from 37 games and a goal difference of -113 on their way to relegation. Whitton meanwhile were down in 16th but long safe from the drop themselves. However right from the offset Swaffham were the more hungry to end the season on a high - they hit the post in the 22nd minute and then got the first goal of the game three minutes later. Josh Malin's shot from six yards was well saved by Reiley Calton but Charlie Lambe was on hand to knock in the rebound. They went close to a second on the half-hour mark as a ball upfield found Ben Cissell who played in Charlie Lambe only for him to shoot straight at the keeper. Swaffham continued to attack and a similar situation happened in the 38th minute, this time it was Harry Cupit shooting straight at Calton. The Whitton goalie was called upon again in injury team to get down well to save a Ben Cissell effort. Whilst the visitors could count themselves fortunate to only be one down at the break this was really put into focus when they equalised two minutes after the restart as Ronaldo Wright nipped in front of the home keeper to poke the ball home. The hosts didn't let this put them off their stride and were back in front in the 59th minute when Ben Cissell grabbed a goal. Swaffham remained on top for the rest of the game with the main area of discussion being an ugly confrontation in injury time involving almost all 22 players - in a case of mistaken identity Donel Wright received his marching orders after the officials mistook him for teammate Tom Bradlaugh which caused much amusement from the travelling contingent. 

Result: Swaffham Town 2-1 Whitton United
Division: Eastern Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 54

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