Welcome to Shaun Smith's groundhopping football blog 'The 100 Football Grounds Club'(est.2006) the original internet ground logging website. Please feel free to leave any comments if you wish. Cheers!!! site updated on post date
Barnet 0v1 Gateshead
Skrill Premier Division
Saturday 8th March 2014After the disappointment of being unable to tick off Welling United because of the weather last month, I was again back in the smoke for a Gateshead away game, this time visiting Barnet’s new gaff in ‘Arrrow, the aptly named The Hive Stadium.
Since my visit to Underhill on the eve of the 2010-11 season, The Bees survived by the skin of their teeth to avoid the drop, finishing 22nd in two consecutive seasons before falling through the Football League trapdoor last term, so they find themselves back in non-league football for the first time since 2005.
Google searchers looking for information on the club’s history and their former home can read about this on my previous post - My Matchday - 255 Underhill However one thing I forgot to mention in that report was the first time I ever became aware of Barnet and wondered where it was. In 1979 I bought a unique piece of 7 inch vinyl by Toyah. Sheep Farming In Barnet has 6 tracks squeezed onto a single playing at 33rpm, which record label Safari described as an “Alternative Play Record” The title refers to a peculiar incident when sheep were bizarrely seen in a field in Finchley just off Regent's Park Road. An LP version with an additional five tracks became the band’s debut album in February 1980.
Barnet FC officially announced their intention to leave Underhill, their home for 106 years in December 2011 after they were unable to renew its lease. The stadium construction at the Prince Edward Playing Fields in Canons Park, originally started back in 2003 as a new home for Wealdstone F.C, but within twelve month work ceased on the project when the club's investor's went into liquidation. In 2006 Harrow London Borough Council put the site up for tender and after a failed bid to relocate to Barnet Copthall, the club focused their intentions to move 6 miles south-west to The Hive, in readiness for the 2013-14 season.
The Hive is a ten minute walk from Cannons Park station, located through Barnet’s training ground in Camrose Avenue. The amenities, including club offices, changing rooms, clubshop and The Hive Bar are found within the East Stand. As for the stand itself, it holds 750 divided into ten rows of black seats including press area and the team dugouts, with cover coming from an overhanging roof from the main building. There isn't a tunnel as the players emerge from the north-east corner of the ground.
The West Stand has a capacity of 2,700 decked out in amber with two strips of horizontal black seats. and an electronic scoreboard. The stand is a single tier block with a cantilever roof and no supporting pillars, with the Jubilee Line running behind the stand, so you get a good view of the stadium as you arrive on the tube.
Behind each goal are two identical covered terraces which are prominently silvery grey with ten steps of terracing, crash barriers and the roof without any other flashes of colour.
The club successfully kicked off this season within their new surroundings with the first match played against Ipswich Town in a pre-season friendly on the 20th July, but there's a sting in the tale as The Bees were issued an enforcement notice from Harrow Borough Council. The issue over the stadium is regarding the floodlights and the West Stand being built outside specifications in the original agreement. The notice means the club have six months to demolish the stand and three months to remove the lights or risk facing prosecution, however the club maintain the any remedial work shouldn’t be a problem.
Backed by tremendous support from the Heed Army, Gateshead boosted their chances of finishing amongst the play-off pack with a crucial three points at The Hive. Over a hundred Heed fans had made the long trip to north London and were gladly rewarded with a second half winner from Jamie Chandler.
Decent goal scoring chances were minimal throughout the game, especially in the first half as both teams struggled to adapt to the bright sunshine and the sudden rise in the temperature.
The match improved in the second half with Oster wasting a good opportunity for the visitors, while Charlie Adams looked Barnet’s best bet for a goal, with one effort producing a fine save from Bartlett at the near post.
Just as a goalless draw was looking the most likely outcome the decisive goal arrived in the 71st minute, when Oster chipped a through ball into the path of Chandler who timed his run to perfection and his looping header found the top corner of the net.
This win has The Tynesiders still in with a good shout at the top ,while Barnet move down to fourth as the play-off positions at top of the Conference table changes weekly and its all to play for as the season heads into the final straight.
I set off on the 0722 from Newcastle to Kings Cross feeling quite dapper and in good spirits. There was a touch of spring in the air and I felt like a new man having on matchday eve removed my 5 month old beard.(From incredibly hairy man to bonny lad within 10 minutes...Eddy)
My pre-match plan was to tick off a few more JDWetherspoon pubs, starting off at the Sir John Oldcastle in Farrington for breakfast, before calling points on the Jubilee Line. I stopped off at Finchley Road, Kilburn and Kingsbury, meeting up with Squad#111 Steve Mann on route, who had traveled up from Hastings. As well as Steve, it was again good to see Squad#108 John Robinson from Somerset and #196 Keith Arthur from York, plus it was nice to have a bit crack with some of the Heed Army who I've never seen in a while.
The only disappointment on my part was running out of time for what would have been my fifth new 'Spoons of the day in Stanmore, but nothing could spoil a fab day in which at long last, I saw a Gateshead win in London for the first time. WA GATESHEAD!
BFC 0 GFC 1(Chandler 71)
Admission:Press (£17 on terrace)
Ground no.384 The Hive - Matchday Web album (30 pictures)
Dunbar United 4v1 Tranent Juniors
East Region Juniors - McBookie.com South Division
Saturday 1st March 2014
Dunbar is a town on the East Lothian coast, situated exactly at the halfway point between Edinburgh and the English Border at Berwick-upon-Tweed, being 28 miles each way. The former Royal Burgh takes its name from Brythonic roots; Dynn Barr and means 'summit-fort', which gives an indication to its origins and its history involving the castle situated over the harbour.
Scotland and England often contended for possession of the castle, which withstood many sieges, until the structure was slighted in 1568. The second Battle of Dunbar in 1650 was fought during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms between a Scottish Covenanter army and Cromwell’s English Parliamentarians. The Scots were routed, leading to the overthrow of the monarchy and the occupation of Scotland.
The town later flourished as an agricultural centre and fishing port despite turbulent times in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Dunbar gained a reputation as a holiday destination in the 19th century, as a seaside and golfing resort - The 'bright and breezy burgh' famous for its 'bracing air'. Dunbar is also the birthplace of naturalist author John Muir and the home of the Belhaven Brewery since 1719.
Dunbar United formed in 1925, winning their first honours in the Edinburgh & District League in 1927-28 and the East Lothian Cup the following season. The club also won the title again in 1961-62 and added more trophies in the East of Scotland Junior Cup in 1961 and 1964 and the Brown Cup in 1963.
The Seasiders greatest achievement came in 1961 when they won the top prize in Scottish Junior Football beating Cambuslang Rangers in the final of the Scottish Junior Cup at Hampden Park, but after the successful era of the 1960's the club had a lean spell without honours. In 1990 they lifted their third East of Scotland Junior Cup and won three East Region Division Two titles, the last of which in 1997-98. The last piece of silverware came in the Brown Cup in 1999-00 and the club currently play in East Region South Division.
United moved to New Countess Park in 2001 which is a sports complex within Hallhill Healthy Living Centre. The ground is quite tidy, having a diminutive perimeter wall which separates the football from the rugby, with both sports sharing the large clubhouse found within the Living Centre.
There's room for about 2,500 spectators which is open on all sides apart from an overhanging roof at the main end, along from the changing rooms and refreshment bar. The paying entrance block is at the railway end, with perspex dugouts at the far side and eight floodlight pylons.
Dunbar were up against their neighbours from further west along the A1 (and a future tick) - Tranent Juniors The visitors withstood some early pressure before grabbing the lead, when a long ball found Bob Berry who produced a neat finish to chip the advancing keeper in the tenth minute. The Seasiders turned it around before half time, when a hard low cross was met by defender Richard Fairnie whose diving header flew past his own 'keeper, then Sam Young was on hand to give his team a well deserved lead.
The hosts had further chances to extend their one goal advantage but left it late to assure the three points. With a quarter of an hour remaining substitute Keith Tait finished off a good passing move to fire home a right foot shot into the corner of the net and with three minutes left Ross Colquhoun fouled Sam Young in the box, who stepped up and made no mistake from 12 yards to seal a convincing victory.
The journey up to Dunbar took an hour and three quarters (You were right Stevie Charla...Eddy) Those of you who might have read about my trip to Stamford at the end of January will remember “Wor Al” - that mackem tosser of a car I had, let me down big style, which resulted in a 40 mile tow home and me heavily out of pocket. Since then we’ve welcomed a new four wheeled member to the family, a bonny little Hyundai i20 named Simon. Today’s road trip was our ground bagging debut, which is hopefully the first of many enjoyable days out together of the coming years, including seeking more matches and new grounds just north of the border.
DUJFC 4(Fairnie 22OG Young 38 87pen Tait 75) TJFC 1(Berry 10)
Ground no.382 New Countess Park - Matchday Web album
York Railway Institute 4v6 York St Johns University
York League - Premier Division
Saturday 22nd February 2014
Myself, Zippy and Deal or No Deal* star Plymouth Pete took the boilers out for a day in York, but delayed the ale trail until after the match. We arrived at 1.30 and caught a taxi to the ground for the 2pm kick off, leaving the lasses for a few hours before meeting up for a pub crawl afterwards, which continued back in Newcastle later that evening.
*Watch Peter open boxes and beat The B(w)anker on the show this June
York Railway Institute play in the York League, which was formed way back in 1897. The league currently runs four divisions with its Premier Division giving step 7 status at the beginning of the season, which means I can now (by my own rules) count it as a tick.
Home matches have been played on the New Lane site in Acomb since 1926, the complex includes two rugby pitches and another football field at the far end. The main pitch is fully fenced off with light pylons and dugout frames, which have covers added just before kick-off. The road entrance into the sports ground divides the football and rugby grounds and runs towards the York RI Sports Club, where Zippy and Peter managed to blag a sausage sandwich, especially prepared after the kitchen was closed.
The football club was formed in 1886 by railway employees from York station and are one of the city’s oldest clubs. They won their first of eleven York League titles in 1935-36, becoming champions in five of the next six seasons. The York League was last won in 1967-68 before the club came to prominence from 1974 when they joined the 3rd Division of the Yorkshire League.By 1982 the club had progressed to the First Division which lead to them becoming founder members of the Northern Counties East League in 1982. The Railwaymen played in the NECL for a decade winning the double of the Division One title and League Cup in 1987-88.
In 1996-97 they moved from the York League to the West Yorkshire League, but resigned in their fifth season with their record expunged after failing to play out the full campaign. Since returning to the York League they’ve progressed to the Premier Division by winning divisional titles in 2007-08 and 2009-10.
From the kick-off the visitors gained possession and after four passes Michael Grugan was on hand to fire them into the lead after only 11 seconds, in the style of San Marino against England in 1993, but minus the hapless Stuart Pearce. The hosts drew level through Ben Jones on 22 minutes, but the lead lasted barely ten minutes as Grugan nodded in a deep free kick which found the net via the crossbar.
This familiar pattern developed throughout the half as Keenaghan equalised on 24 minutes only for Tom Ryan to fire home from the penalty spot after the referee spotted a bit of shirt pulling in the box. Just before the break Lee Powell made it 3-3, so the little score prediction bet we do amongst ourselves to make the game more interesting was well and truly knackered, so at half -time we decided to forecast the number of goals in the game; Zippy went for 8, I chose 9 and Peter predicted 10.
St Johns took the lead for the fourth time on 52 minutes when Lee Winslow got on the end of a long ball, before running through and rounding the ‘keeper with a tidy finish, then on the hour mark they managed to extend their lead with a peach of a goal from Tom Shepherd, firing in a superb 25 yard volley.
The hosts pulled one back when Nick Hartley finished off a good move and went all out for an equaliser, but it was the students who wrapped up the points, as James Peavoy fired home the half dozen for only their fourth league win of the season.
Two observations made during the game which I must mention is the visiting team had not a single soul on the bench, no manager, sponge man or any substitutes, just an empty dugout sheltering a couple of water bottles. We also witnessed a substitution made by the home side ten minutes from the end, which had us rubbing our eyes in disbelief, as the player who took the field must have been about 11 years of age. I know RI have a good junior set up covering all age groups, but this young’un must be a helluva player to be fast tracked to the seniors at such a tender age.
After the match I spoke to the winning team to get information on the goalscorers. They all seemed a bunch of canny lads and also as we left one of the RI player’s made an apology to us on his team mates behalf for their “shit performance”
It was Peter who got the goal total correct and so he received a couple of quid each off me and Zip. His celebration in winning this wee bet was way over the top, so if this is his reaction in trousering £4, then I can’t wait to see his response on TV to winning big money in the presence of the neatly bearded man in the loud shirt.
Bevvy Almanac - York Top 3
Magic Rock ‘Rapture’ (4.6%) York Tap
Kirby Lonsdale ‘Ruskins’ (3.9%) Three Legged Mare - York
Brass Castle Cliffhanger(3.8%) Last Drop Inn
YRIAFC 4(Jones 22 Keenaghan 34 Powell 41 Hartley 72)
YStJUFC 6(Grugan 1,31 Ryan 38pen Winslow 52 Shepherd 60 Peavoy 79)
Admission and Programme:none
In celebration of the success of the 100 Football Grounds( Fan)Club on Facebook, I’ve decided to make the best picture of the week choice a bit more interesting. The top contributor of the weekly honour over the course of 2014 will win a limited edition 100FgC mug, embossed with the club crest.
Each Monday morning I’ll pick the best ground photograph posted on Facebook at matches attended over the previous week, and also post the winning pictures on the blog site. To give you all a decent chance, my own pics aren't included, I’ll leave it to the photography skills our regular contributors and newcomers. So I wish you all the best of luck in pursuit of the ‘Pic of the Week Cup’
Harlow Town 3v0 Wroxham
Ryman Isthmian League - North Division
Saturday 8th February 2014The Groundhoppers public enemy number 1 is the British climate, which is in the hands of our nemesis - the Weather God. You always running the risk of pre-booked plans going tits up after a few days of heavy rainfall, this being the case today as Gateshead's Conference away fixture at Welling United fell foul to a waterlogged pitch. Thankfully the match was called off on Friday morning, which gave me enough time to workout alternative arrangements.
I had planned to meet up with Tom Salinger (Squad#96) at Wingate & Finchley, where I was to be giving the privilege of presenting the man of the match award, but this too was postponed. However I was confident that my Plan C was definitely a goer as Harlow Town have a new 3G pitch. The Weather God may be our foe but we have a friend in the third generation playing surface.
My newly drafted timetable went “off to a tee”. I arrived at Kings Cross at 1040, then after purchasing travel tickets, took the Victoria Line up to Highbury & Islington. I called into some cracking second hand record stores* on Essex Road and ticked off a couple of Wetherspoon pubs; The Angel and The White Swan, before taking the underground to Tottenham Hale. The train journey to Harlow Town takes around 20 minutes so I had plenty of time to alight at Waltham Cross for a 'Spoons lunch before finally reaching my destination at 2pm.
* I could have spent hours in Haggling Vinyl and Flashback but was short of time, but I'll be back
Harlow is a new town in Essex on the border with Hertfordshire in the Stort Valley, which is near the M11 motorway and only 16 miles from Stansted Airport, so it has good commuter access to London town and beyond.
The original village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as a typical rural community, around what is now known as Old Harlow, with many of its buildings still standing. The new town was part of the ‘Phase One’ development of new modern settlements built after World War II to ease overcrowding in and around London, due to the mass desolation caused by the bombing during the Blitz.
The Harlow plan was drawn up by Sir Frederick Gibberd in 1947, incorporated Old Harlow and the surrounding villages, each divided into neighbourhoods with their own shopping precincts, community facilities and boozer. Britain's first pedestrian precinct was built in Harlow, along with the first modern-style residential tower block - The Lawn constructed in 1951, which is now a Grade II listed building. The town centre plus many of its neighbourhood shopping facilities have undergone major redevelopment with the original buildings rebuilt to bring this “new town” into the 21st century.
The club was formed in 1879 with their first match taking place on the 18th October against Saffron Walden. At the end of the century they briefly played in the East Herts League before merging with Netteswell and Burnt Mill in 1898. The renamed Harlow and Burnt Mill FC rejoined the East Herts League, but the brief marriage of the two clubs came to an end in 1902.
In 1907 they joined the new Stansted & District League, winning four league titles during the 1920s and also had a team in the East Herts League, where they added a further four championships during the same era.The club also appeared in the Herts & Essex Border League and the Spartan League until joining the Premier Division of the London League in 1954.
They switched to the ill fated Delphian League in 1961, then two years later were placed in Athenian League Division Two, winning promotion in 1963–64 and the Division One title in 1971-72. In 1973 they arrived in the Isthmian League where they’ve played ever since, apart from having to take a season out because of ground reasons in 1992-93, plus a brief spell in the Southern League between 2004 and 2006.
Barrows Farm is the club’s third ground, having played at Green Man Playing Fields until 1960, when they moved to Harlow Sportcentre, the first of its kind in England. The Sportcentre was the scene for The Hawks greatest moment in 1980 when having beating Southend United in the second round of the FA Cup, they were drawn away to Second Division leaders Leicester City in round three. Harlow grabbed a last minute equaliser at Filbert Street to take the Foxes back to Sportcentre, where in front of a record crowd of 9,723(including a young Simple Pieman..Eddy) they won the replay 1-0.
The Club moved a mile and a half to the west of their former home to the Pinnacles Industrial Estate in September 2006, playing their first senior match the following month in a Division 1 North fixture against Ware. The stadium is now known as Harlow Arena and is quite impressive when compared with some of the other new builds in recent times, especially the impressive carpet of a pitch. The main focus is the stand which houses all the amenities including changing rooms, club offices, refreshment bar, clubhouse and 500 red seats split into four sections, with the letters HTFC picked out in white. There’s also a function room at the top of the stand which overlooks the pitch towards the Jack Chapman Stand opposite. This covered terrace has standing room for 500 spectators and is the main gathering point for the young Town fans, who give good vocal support and encouragement throughout with their chants of “Aarlow Aarlow”
The team dugouts are in front of the terrace with hard standing and grass verges behind each goal. The 3,500 capacity stadium is finished off with tall thin floodlight pylons in each corner and there's also the nice touch of a kiddies 3G pitch next to the Main Stand.
On a sunny, dry, but windy afternoon Harlow Town breezed past their Ryman League North opponents Wroxham with three second half goals. The Hawks bossed the game from the off, but had to remain patient, finally taking the lead five minutes after the restart, when a right wing cross was nodded back into the path of debutant David Laird to pick his spot from 12 yards. The hosts doubled their lead within ten minutes when Alex Reed was on hand to fire home and he grabbed his brace late on with probably the easiest goal he'll ever score, George Smith setting up the striker to knock the ball into the net inches from the goal line. Overall an easy but professional afternoons work from the Essex outfit and another three points keeps them in the promotion picture.
On arrival in Harlow I walked from the train station along Fifth and Fourth avenues, which is a canny hike just to tick off another public house. However this was nothing compared with the slog along the same road to the football ground, having to walk at postman speed instead of a leisurely wander which I would have preferred as I was carrying a belly full of beer.
At the ground I bumped into ace football ground photographer David Bauckham, who graciously offered me a lift to the station afterwards, so this allowed plenty of time to get back to Kings Cross for the 1900 back to Newcastle.
Although I was initially disappointed with the Welling match being postponed things turned out great in the end, having a really smashing day out, going to a ground and a part of outer London that I wouldn’t have visited otherwise. On the downside though, yet again the completion of the top 116 clubs will again elude me for yet another season, but deep down I knew that this was the probable outcome, as our old enemy the Weather God defeats this Groundhopper yet again.
Simple Pieman's visit in November 2006 and memories of Harlow Town.
HTFC 3(Laird 50 Reed 59,83) WFC 0
Programme £2 (sold out)
Ground no.380 Barrows Farm Stadium - Matchday Web album (33 pictures)