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Welcome to Shaun Smith's Groundhopping blog ...
 'The 100 Football Grounds Club'(est.2006) ... the original internet ground logging website.
Check out my blog reports and pictures from over 400 different football grounds in the A-Z Matchday Index

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Around the Alliance - part eighteen

Just the one new ground ticked off and the first of this season’s cup finals in this latest edition of Around the Alliance.
Grounsell Park was the venue for the Bay Plastics Combination Cup final, as Seaton Burn faced Gateshead A, who were in pursuit of another league and cup double. The Tynesiders bossed the game for long periods but were unable to break down a stubborn Burn defence, who worked tirelessly throughout. As the match progressed Seaton Burn became more confident and had chances to win it late on, but the match finished goalless after a tight ninety minutes.
It looked likely that a defensive error or a cracking goal would settle the final and this was the case, when in the second period of extra time a misplaced back pass was intercepted by Arman Mirkarimi, who rounded the ‘keeper and slotted home the winner.
Congratulations to Seaton Burn on winning their first piece of silverware, while the young Gateshead team are just three points away from winning the First Division and claiming back-to-back league titles.
Matchday Stats
Gateshead ‘A’ 0
Seaton Burn 1(Mirkarimi 117)

The George Dobbins League Cup final took place between Birtley Town and Walker Central at the home of Hebburn Town FC. This time we didn’t have to wait long for a goal as Michael Trodd gave Walker a 14th minute lead, playing a one-two with Baxter from a corner kick, before curling in a fine effort from the edge of the box. They could have had the match wrapped up and the sky blue & white ribbons placed on the cup well before half time, taking advantage of the strong wind behind their backs. Michael Baxter missed a golden chance, doing the hard work to go around the ‘keeper after being put clean through, but with the goal at his mercy he fired the ball into Victoria Road. Birtley goalie Phil Mills denied Michael Leech from close range and Matthew Hayden also went close before the interval.
Birtley, backed by a keen vocal support from their junior section, improved in the second half and had chances to draw level, as they pushed to take the match into extra time. They almost snatched an equaliser with just minutes remaining when a cross from Hill was met by a Connor Halpin diving header which agonisingly crashed against the crossbar.
Overall Walker just shaded it, although the match might have been more of a spectacle if it wasn’t for the strong wind on this chilly night in South Tyneside.
Matchday Stats
Birtley Town 0
Walker Central 1(Trodd 14)

565. Churchill Playing Fields
Lindisfarne Custom Planet joined the Northern Alliance from the Tyneside Amateur League in 2014, winning promotion in their debut season after a third place finish in Division Two. Prior to the start of this season they changed their name and relocated to Monkseaton, playing home games at the Churchill Playing Fields. The senior side forms part of the set up at Monkseaton Juniors, where there is a reserve team in the Tyneside Amateur League and youth teams from Under-7’s to Under-16s, as well as a Futsal club.

Monkseaton is a village which has now been absorbed as part of neighbouring Whitley Bay, although it outdates the seaside resort, dating back to the early 12th century when it was known as Seton. King Henry I granted lands to the Priory of Tynemouth so it became “Seton Monachorum" then eventually Monk Seaton or Seaton of the Monks.
Churchill Playing Fields has bowling greens, a tennis court, an athletics track, cricket pitch and at the far end two football pitches, one which is roped off and used by the senior side and the furthest pitch used by the reserve team.

Monkseaton faced Gateshead Redheugh 1957, the hosts going into this game sitting in sixth position while their opponents are anchored at the bottom of the table. After witnessing 2 one-nils in the Alliance over the last few weeks it was obvious that the match would be settled by a solitary goal. The decisive strike came midway through the first half when a spell of pressure from the hosts saw Jack Armstrong fire in at the far post. Monkseaton had chances to extend the lead and overall deserved the win, despite a few “handbag moments” late on as their opponents became more and more frustrated.
Matchday Stats
Monkseaton FC 1 (Armstrong 21)
Gateshead Redheugh 1957 0
Northern Alliance First Division

The only ground I haven’t been to in the top two divisions is Alnmouth United, so if I get the chance to visit this season it will be added to this post.

Manc Treble

Monday 17th April 2017

Although I've had this leg of the Easter Groundhop marked as a “must do” since it was announced over a year ago, it wasn’t until last weekend that I sorted out the logistics for the trip. I booked myself on the 0708 Transpennine Express train to Manchester Oxford Road, from where I had a five minute window to catch the train to Atherton. Everything was going to well until the train got stuck at a junction outside Piccadilly Station, which meant it arrived at my stop a minute late for my connection, but luckily that service was also late, so still arrived at my first game ten minutes before kick off.
I contacted Consett based Peter Taylor, who I've done groundhops with previously and he agreed to give me a lift home after the three matches. He was also kind enough to offer a chauffeur service between games, so a huge thank you to him for helping me out. 

Atherton Collieries 5-1 AFC Darwen
North West Counties League - Premier Division
(1st v 19th) 11am ko.

Atherton Collieries
The Colls founded in 1916
Joined Bolton Combination in 1919, winning the first of ten league titles in their debut season.  
Also had spells in the Lancashire Alliance, West Lancashire League and the Lancashire Combination.
Cheshire League 1978-1982
Founder members of the NWCL in 1982
Division 3 champions 1986-87
Division 2 runners-up 1995-96
Promoted to Premier as Division 1 champions in 2014-15
League Cup winners 2015-16

562. Alder House
Capacity 2,500

The club have played at Alder House ground since their formation, which now has the sponsorship name of The Kensite Stadium. The entrance is in the corner of the ground, where there is a seated stand between the turnstiles and the dugouts. Opposite is the clubhouse, tea bar and a small seated stand next to a covered standing enclosure. Behind the top goal is the changing rooms, with the bottom end open to the elements.
The floodlights were installed in 1994 with the original old stand demolished in 2007.

The Colls took another step towards the Premier Division title with a 5-1 demolishing of AFC Darwen. They took an early lead courtesy of an own goal from Jamie Edwards, before Jordan Cover converted a spot kick on twenty minutes. Vincent Bailey made it 3-0 early in the second half, then two goals in five minutes from Cover including another successful penalty, saw the number nine complete his hat-trick. Nicholas Hepple grabbed a consolation goal for the visitors, as the leaders are now just one win away from becoming champions.

West Didsbury & Chorlton 3-1 Congleton Town
North West Counties League - Premier Division
(10th v 16th) 2.45pm ko

Founded in 1908 as Christ Church and joined Manchester Alliance League
Changed name to West Didsbury and joined Lancashire & Cheshire League in 1920
League runners-up in 1922-23 1931-32.
Division 3 winners 1987-88 Division 2 winners 1988-89
Rhodes Cup winners 1927, 1970
In 2003 changed name to West Didsbury & Chorlton
Manchester League 2006-2012 - Division One champions 2010-11
Joined NWCL Division One in 2012-13, winning promotion to its Premier Division in their debut season. 

563. Brookburn Road
Capacity 1,000

West moved from the Christie Playing Fields to Brookburn Road in Chorlton in 1997. The ground is tucked away in a housing estate, dominated by the large clubhouse and changing room block at the far goal. There is a few seats at the front of the building with a small covered seated section named the Rob Turley Stand next to it. There is some cover at the entrance goal with the rest of the ground open on both sides.

West left it late to overcome Congleton Town with all four goals coming in the last quarter of the game. Nia Bayuno headed in a corner on 72 minutes, before the visitors replied with a neat volley from Callum Gardner with time running out. The away side looked the more likely to go on and grab a winner, but a towering header from Saul Henderson, quickly followed by a rasping shot from Carlos Mendes Gomez, saw West steel the points in injury time.

Maine Road 2-2 Abbey Hey
North West Counties League - Premier Division
(14th v 12th) 5.45pm ko

Maine Road FC
Founded in 1955 as City Supporters Rusholme
Played Sunday League football and became Maine Road FC in the late sixties when they moved their HQ to the Maine Road Social Club.
Switched to Saturday football in 1972, winning the Manchester League Premier Division four seasons running between 1983 and 1987.
Joined NWCL Division Two in 1987 - champions in 1989-90
Premier League runners-up 2012-13

League Cup winners 2008
564. Brantingham Road
Capacity 2,000

After playing at various grounds in Withington, Stockport, Newton Heath and Flixton, the club moved to Brantingham Road in Chorlton in 1980. The ground is decked out in sky blue and has a covered enclosure down one side filling with a couple of rows of wooden benches. On the dugout side is a covered standing area, with open hard standing behind each goal. The spacious clubhouses bar has church seats, so you literally take a pew when you sit down for a drink.

Maine Road let slip a two goal lead to share the spoils with Abbey Hey. Matthew Morgan produced two good finishes, with a goal in each half to put the Sky Blues in command, before the visitors hit back. Matthew Cook got on the end of a left wing cross to fire in at the far post, before the last (and best) goal of the day from Ashford Blake, who rifled in the equaliser from the edge of the box on 79 minutes.

Afterwards, Peter didn't spare the horses, getting me back home at 10.15pm, after an enjoyable but tiring day. My personal highlights throughout the day was the 'Spoons in Chorlton, the drunken crack from Dickie Bysouth and the gorgeous barmaid in the clubhouse at Maine Road.

Matchday Stats
ACFC 5 (Edwards OG4 Cover 20pen, 66, 76pen Bailey 49)
AFCD 1 (Helpless 80)
WD&CAFC 3 (Bayuno 72 Henderson 90+1 Gomes 90+4)
CTFC 1 (Gardner 84)
MRFC 2 (Morgan 18,51)
AHFC 2 (Cook 62 Blake 79)

Admission £5 each game
Programmes: £1.50 each and £2 at West
Pin badges: £3 and £2.50 at Maine Road.

✓561 Old Shielfield

Tweedmouth Rangers 2-1 Burntisland Shipyard
East of Scotland League
Saturday 15th April 2017

Tweedmouth Rangers
Founded in 2010
North Northumberland League 2010-2016
Division Two winners 2012-13
Division One runners-up 2015-16

Joined East of Scotland League 2016-17

Old Shielfield
East of Scotland grounds 4/11
Scottish grounds 84

In 2014 the club moved from their ground in Spittal after agreeing a deal with Shielfield Park lease owners - Berwick Rangers Supporters Club, to play out their home fixtures on Old Shielfield.

The pitch is fenced off with advertising boards and a pair of dugouts on one side. Entry to the ground is through Gate A at Shielfield Park, so you enter the home of The Borderers to gain access to the ground, with the teams using the Berwick Rangers changing rooms.
Tweedmouth Rangers(10th) v Burntisland Shipyard(11th)
East of Scotland League Matchday 14/17
Kick Off 2.30pm

A last minute goal from Michael Allen clinched the three points in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon in the East of Scotland League. Rangers took the lead just after the hour mark when a cross from the left was scrambled in at the far post by Jake Rutherford, before the visitors levelled from the penalty spot with just over ten minutes remaining.
The last flurry on the Burntisland goal saw the ‘keeper pull off two terrific saves before the ball fell into the path of Allen to fire home the winner.

Matchday Stats
TRFC 2(Rutherford 63 Allan 90)
BSFC 1(TBC 79pen)
Entertainment 6/10
Top Bloke - Michael Allan (Tweedmouth Rangers)
Admission: Donation bucket

1136 Cross Country train from Newcastle - Berwick - 1752 return

A pleasant day out in Berwick with a few pints supped in some of the town’s best boozers, starting off in Curfew before taking root in the Barrels Ale House. After heading back over the bridge from Tweedmouth I called into The Brewers Arms, where they had the sunderland-West Ham game on. The majority of the pub revellers cheered when they grabbed a late equaliser. You’ll never see a mackem in Milan but there’s plenty of them in Berwick!  I finished off my mini-pub crawl with a pint in the Brown Bear before heading up the bank for my train home after an enjoyable afternoon.

✔560 Langwith Road

Shirebrook Town 1-1 Eccleshill United
Northern Counties East League Division One
Saturday 25th March 2017
Shirebrook is a former mining town in the Bolsover district, on the north-east Derbyshire border with Notts.
(Population around 10,000)
Shirebrook Colliery was sunk in 1896 before closing in April 1993. The town briefly earned the nickname "the Belfast of England” because of deep divisions between workers and strikers during the 1983-84 miners strike. It’s also known as “Little Poland” amongst its local residents.
The birthplace of England World Cup winner Ray Wilson, The Bill actor Colin Tarrant and Hollywood “star” Jason Statham. 

Shirebrook Colliery formed in 1985 and joined the Central Midlands League from Sunday league football.
Senior League winners 1985-86
Division One runners-up 1986-87
Promoted to Supreme League 1990-91
Changed name to Shirebrook Town in 1993
CML Supreme champions 2000-01,2001-02
Joined Northern Counties East League 2002-03
Division One winners 2003-04
Relegated from Premier Division in 2010

Langwith Road
NCEL grounds 27/44
Current capacity 2,000 
Record crowd 2,200 v Mansfield Town (friendly) 1991

There is two matching stands with a total of 300 seats on the far side with three rows of blue flips, with the team dugouts in between at the front. At the entrance side there’s Marilyn’s cafe, the club office and a covered terrace with room for 400 spectators. The changing rooms are in the corner next to the paying entrance, which were officially opened in 2004 by Ray Wilson. The rest of the ground is open with three sets of floodlight pylons on each side.

Shirebrook Town(16th) v Eccleshill United(9th)
NCEL Division One Matchday 35/37
Kick off 3pm

Shirebrook claimed a well earned point after playing over half the game with ten men. Five minutes before the break Luke Wright went off injured and as the home team didn’t name any substitutes, they had to soldier on a man short.
Just 18 seconds after the restart they took the lead when Jake Whelan picked up the ball in midfield and ran on unchallenged before firing home from the edge of the box.
Ten minutes later a good through ball found Luke Harrop who raced in on goal and produced a good finish to draw Eccleshill level. 
It was backs to the wall for the hosts in the final quarter of the match and the visitors almost pinched it in injury time, when ‘keeper Warren Squires pushed a point blank effort onto the crossbar to maintain the draw.

Matchday Stats and Spondoolicks
STFC 1(Whelan 46) EUFC 1(Harrop 67)
Entertainment 7/10
Top Bloke - no.5 (Shirebrook Town)

Admission £4
Programme £1
Pin badge £3
Tea £1
Meat pie £2
Chips £1
Another one of our weekend ale trails, this time heading further south into Derbyshire with a night out in Chesterfield. The breadknife and I were also accompanied by our very good friends Zippy and Helen for what was a cracking night out with bevvies supped in the White Swan, Spa Lane Vaults, The Rutland Arms, Portland Hotel and the Market Pub. Plenty of new ales along with a belly filling Chinese sittee-dooney rounded off a great Saturday in the shadows of the crooked spire.

Bevvy Almanac
Best ale - St Louis Continental IPA (6.5%)****+ -(Spa Lane Vaults)
Best boozer - Rutland Arms

Matchday Web Album 
(25 pictures from Langwith Road)