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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

My Matchday - 416 Seel Park

Mossley 3v0 Lancaster City
Evostick League - Division One North
Saturday 6th September 2014

To mark this years ‘Non-League Day’ I picked out a northern ground off my “t’do list’ that I’ve been longing to visit for a while and at the top of the pile is Seel Park, the home of Mossley AFC. 

Whereabouts and Whatsabouts
Mossley is a small town and civil parish in the upper Tame Valley in the foothills of the Pennines, found 3 miles north-east of Ashton-under-Lyne and just under 9 miles east of Manchester.
Mossley was divided between three counties, before becoming a borough in 1885. Brookbottom (Top Mossley) and Bottoms (Bottom Mossley) were in Lancashire and historically part of the old parish of Ashton. Milton, Quickedge and Roughtown were part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, while Micklehurst and the east of the River Tame was in Cheshire. The borough was part of Lancashire before becoming the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside in 1974.
The town name originates from the words “moss” meaning a boggy area and “lea” meaning a clearing in a wood. The area was once densely forested with wild animals such as boars roaming, until the trees were mostly felled and the hillsides used to graze sheep.
Mossley has been populated since the stone-age.An ancient road runs high along the eastern side of the valley above Micklehurst, and this was improved by the Romans, who put their stamp on the area by improving the road to travel between forts at Melandra and Castleshaw. They also added more roman roads linking the town to Stalybridge and nearby villages. 

Plantpot History
Park Villa formed in 1903, after playing just one season in local competitions then changed their name to Mossley Juniors. They became Mossley AFC in 1909, playing in the Ashton & District League, which they won in 1914–15 to progress to the South East Lancashire League. During this era they also played in the Manchester Amateur League and the Lancashire Combination, before becoming founder members of the Cheshire County League in 1919.
Mossley never won the Cheshire League, their best season was in 1969–70 when they finished runners-up and also reached the 1st Round Proper of the FA Cup, narrowly losing in a replay to Stockport County. They also made it to the quarter finals of the inaugural FA Trophy going out to Southern League giants Barnet. 
The Lilywhites were elected to the Northern Premier League in 1972, becoming a formidable force in the late 1970s and early eighties, winning successive League titles and finishing runners-up three seasons running. They also reached the FA Trophy final in 1980, but unluckily lost the final 2-1 to Dagenham in front of a 26,000 crowd at Wembley.
The club’s run of 23 years in the Northern Premier League came to an end in 1995 when they were relegated to the North West Counties League. The Lillywhites played eight seasons in the division, finishing runners-up to Clitheroe in the 2003-04 season to return to NPL in the Unibond Division One. Mossley were Champions in 2005-06  finishing two points above Fleetwood Town but were relegated the following year and have played in Division One North since. 
Ground no.416 Seel Park 
English Non League no.203 
Current Evostick NPL Pyramid 23/68

Seel Park is the fourth highest altitude stadium in English football. The ground is approximately 850 feet above sea level, with only Buxton, Tow Law Town and Bacup Borough standing higher.
Mossley moved from a farmers field at Luzley to a disuse cricket ground in 1912, which was christened Seel Fold. The ground’s first structures of a 430 capacity timber grandstand and dressing rooms which were built in 1920. By the following decade the ground had been renamed Seel Park, then in 1948 the football club bought the ground outright from Stamford Estates for a total sum of £1,200. The most popular viewing point spectator of the ground was the grass bank behind what is now the School End, which was levelled and replaced with hard standing in the 1990s. 
The ground was sold to investors in 1988 to clear club debts and two years later it was purchased by Tameside MBC, who continue to lease it back to the football club. In late December 2009 two floodlight pylons collapsed and the other six were later condemned, so the club had to play home midweek fixtures at Ashton United's Hurst Cross ground. New floodlights were erected in time for the 2010–11 season. 
The main stand was erected in 1968, having a black frame and 220 matching flip seats, built up with the access stairs at the front. There is a section of terracing with crash barriers at the ground entrance side which stretches across to the corner. At the top of the terrace are the club offices, the Bob Murphy hospitality suite, refreshment bar and a very nice clubhouse bar. Opposite there’s terracing running full length with a covered section in the centre.   
The Park End is a classic looking covered terrace which can shelter 700 spectators and the opposite goal is open hard standing which runs around to meet the main stand.
The overall capacity is 4,000 people with total standing cover for 1,500. The record attendance is 7,000 for a derby match with Stalybridge Celtic in 1950.
The Match
After a scrappy opening period it was the Lilywhites who bossed the second half to run out comfortable winners. They took the lead five minutes after the restart when Mitchell Bryant received a through ball on the left flank before cutting inside and producing a neat finish into the far corner. Two goals from Thomas Pratt in a five minute spell clinched the three points. The top bloke of the match did well to anticipate the defender’s back pass to quickly nip in and side foot home, before winning a penalty and stepping up to make no mistake from 12 yards. Mossley created further chances and but for some poor finishing they could have won this game more handsomely.

Matchday Stats
MAFC 3(Bryant 50 Pratt 71,76pen) LCFC 0
Att.201
Top Bloke - Thomas Pratt(Mossley)

Spondoolicks
Admission £6 
Golden Goal ticket £1 
Steak and kidney pie £1.70 
Coffee £1 
Programme £2 (36 pages 20 adverts)

Foetoes(32 pictures from Seel Park)

My Matchday
I arrived in Manchester at 9.40am with a busy schedule planned. My regular dozen readers will know the usual gubbins I get up to, so apart from the obvious I also visited the National Football Museum. I saw the exhibition when it resided at Preston North End’s Deepdale, but this was my first attendance at its new home. If you still haven’t been there before I can highly recommended it, not just so you can admire the splendour of the relocated Michael Jackson statue, but also the fabulous football memorabilia on show, plus it’ll keep you out of the pub for an hour.
Overall the train journey to Mossley via Stalybridge takes 25 minutes, so before swapping trains I spent over an hour there so I could tick off another ‘Spoons and visit the highly recommended Station Buffet Bar on the platform. I caught the 1412 for the short trip to Mossley, having another refreshment stop before the long climb up the hill to the ground. 
A thoroughly enjoyable day, topped off with my visit to Seel Park, the classic non-league ground set within its picturesque backdrop was the perfect venue for this years Non-League Day.

Bevvy Almanac
Manchester
The Seven Stars(JDW) (Dantzic St) -
Weetwood ‘Oast-house Gold’ (5%)***+
Lower Turks Head(Shudehill) -
Moorehouse ‘First Cut’ (4.8%)***+
Stalybridge
The Society Rooms(JDW) (Grosvenor Sq) -
Brightside ‘Manchester Skyline’ (4.6%)****+
Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar -
All Gates ‘All Black’ (3.6%)***+
Magic Rock ‘Rapture’ (4.6%)****
Mossley
The Commercial(Manchester Road) -
Millstone ‘Tiger Rut’(4%)****+
Britannia Inn(Manchester Road) -
Wells ‘Bombardier Burning Gold’ (4.1%)***+


Around The Alliance - part eleven

The latest in the series features clubs in the 1st Division as I took advantage of the Wednesday evening early season matches.

409.Wrekenton Blue Star
Birtley St Josephs 1v1 Cramlington Town
Northern Alliance 1st Division
Wednesday 13th August 2014

I visited Birtley St Joseph’s Welfare Ground at the end of last season and I declared that I would make a point of watching them again this year, as they are based just a ten minute drive away. Since then they’ve relocated to Eighton Banks at the home of Sunday League outfit Wrekenton Blue Star, so they moved even closer, just over a mile from door to door. The club will be renewing their lease in Birtley, but will be playing at Blue Star for a couple of seasons, although the newly formed development team are still using the facilities at the Welfare. The ground is found just off the Longbank in Back Lane, next to the village hall. The pitch is fully railed off with changing rooms & shower facilities and retractable dugouts.
After a goalless first half it was the visitors who took the lead on 57 minutes when good wing play by the Cramlington Town number 8 set up Kevin Brown at the far post who prodded the ball home at the second attempt. St Joe’s were soon level when a penalty was awarded after a handball, the referee having no doubt this time after failing to award a spot kick for a similar incident in the first half. Tony Smith made no mistake from 12 yards, which seemed to gave his team mates a lift, as minutes later Ryan Moore came close to giving Birtley the lead with a shot which rattled the crossbar. This was the closest either team came to grabbing a winner and overall both teams would have been satisfied with a draw.



Matchday Stats
BSJFC 1(Smith 60pen) CTFC 1(Brown 57)
Att.37(HC)
Top Bloke - Tony Smith(Birtley St Josephs)
Admission and programme:none


411. Biggs Main
Wallsend Boys Club 8v1 Blyth Isabella
Northern Alliance 1st Division
Wednesday 20th August 2014
 Wallsend Boys Club was founded in 1904 by the employees and directors of Swan Hunters Shipyard, providing recreational activities for the apprentices and young people in the area.The club is well renowned in the football world as being the breeding ground for the likes of Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Michael Carrick and Steve Bruce, part of an endless list of 70 players who have gone on the play professionally.
The original club premises were a series of wooden huts on Station Road, erected by workers from the shipyard, which were destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in the mid-1960s.In 2008 the club was awarded the Freedom of the City of North Tyneside, in recognition of its community work, the deputy mayor describing the club as a "factory line of talent"
 The club opened its first football centre in June 2011, funded by grants of £850,000 from the Football Foundation, £150,000 from The FA and £301,000 from North Tyneside Council. The club also raised £114,000 towards the scheme, which is situated next to Wallsend Sports Centre at Bigges Main. The ground is found off Shields Road on the Walkerville and Wallsend border, along the end of Rheydt Avenue, having a spacious car park and club pavillion at the entrance. The complex has eight various sized football pitches, with the senior side using the pitch at the front which is fully railed apart from gaps left for the dugouts to be added at a later date. The original Station Road headquarters has now been demolished following high winds in January 2012  which damaged the main building.
 The senior team joined the Northern Alliance Division Two in 2007-08 and finished third last season behind champions Blyth Isabella, their opponents for this evening fixture. The match was action packed throughout. With just over a minute gone Jordan Robertson ran onto a through ball before lobbing the ‘keeper to give Wallsend the lead, before he outpaced the Blyth defence and picked out Nicky Whitelaw to double the advantage on 26 minutes. Robertson also grabbed this second three minutes later followed by a tidy finish by Alex Nisbet, which meant the game was over as a contest after only 36 minutes. 
Whitelaw took advantage of some more slack defending to grab his second before a rare foray into the Wallsend penalty area, saw a spot-kick awarded to the visitors after an off the ball push. Christen Priest dispatched the penalty to make it 5-1 at the break.
In the second half the Boys Club added three more to the tally, with impressive work rate and good finishes by substitutes Chrissy Brennan and Michael Starkie, sandwiched in between with Whitelaw completing his hat-trick with an easy tap in from a corner kick. Apart from bagging eight goals they also hit the crossbar four times in the second half so the final score could have been well into double figures.




Matchday Stats
WBC 8(Robertson 2,29 Whitelaw 26,39,70 Nisbet 36 Brennan 54 Starkie 80) BIFC 1(Priest 42pen)
Att.22(HC)
Top Bloke - Jordan Robertson(Wallsend BC)
Admission and programme:none






415. Newburn Leisure Centre
Heddon 4v1 Hexham
Northern Alliance 1st Division
Wednesday 27th August 2014

Heddon moved from Bullocksteads to Newburn Leisure Centre a few seasons back. I visited Heddon at their former ground back in 2008 which you can read here. Since then the club have been relegated and this is their fifth season in the First Division.
Newburn is a semi rural village on the north banks of the River Tyne, approximately 5 miles west of Newcastle city centre. The Newburn Leisure Centre is found at the far end of the village next to The Keelman, the home of the Big Lamp Brewery, one of my favourite local beer makers. The centre has several pitches with Heddon using the roped off bottom pitch with the changing facilities at the back of the leisure centre facing the ground.

 A five minute hat-trick from Paul Fradgley clinched a much needed win for Heddon against struggling Hexham. The visitors took the lead after half an hour with an overlapping run and shot from full back Steven Coates and looked well in control as the game reached the last quarter. I watched the match with Big Andy from Hexham, and I said to him that I fancied his local team to grab a late second to seal the win. Apologies to Hexham for giving them the kiss of death because a minute after my prediction, Fradgley ran onto a through ball and showed some great skill to tee himself up for a shot, firing in at the far post, then two minutes later he came up with an even better strike with a cracking finish from the edge of the box. 
Hexham responded immediately but Lewis Loughead’s penalty kick was saved and they were instantly punished, as Fradgley completed his hat trick running onto a threaded pass before another tidy finish. Between the 71st and 76th minutes there had been three goals and a missed penalty and Fradgley wasn’t done, as he bagged his fourth of the night in the last minute to round of a great individual performance.



Matchday Stats
HdFC 4(Fradgley 71,73,76,89) HxFC 1(Coates 31)
Att.15(HC)
Top Bloke - Paul Fradgley(Heddon)
Admission and programme:none 

Links - 
Heddon at Bulloksteads - Around The Alliance - part two

Birtley St Joes at the Welfare Ground - Around The Alliance - part ten

My Matchday - Welsh Groundhop 2014 - Bank Holiday Monday

I would have loved to have done the whole weekend of this years Welsh Groundhop but unfortunately I was only free on Bank Holiday Monday. I made an early start, picking up north-east celebrity Groundhopping couple Lee and Katie in Houghton-le-Spring at 6.45 on route for the drive to north Wales . The journey went smoothly with no heavy traffic so we made good time, arriving in Holywell at 9.30. The early arrival meant we had time for a  pre-hop drink in the local Wetherspoons before the 11 o'clock kick-off, but unfortunately our day didn’t get off to the best of starts, as Katie was stung in the eye by a wasp. She bravely soldiered on, although Lee suggested that she can only count the other grounds on the hop if she gets a wasp sting!

412.Halkyn Road
Holywell Town 3v0 Llandyrnog United
Welsh Alliance Division 1
11am ko
The day began in the market town of Holywell (Welsh: Treffynnon) which is the fifth largest town in Flintshire, lying to the west of the estuary of the River Dee. Holywell takes its name from the St Winefride's Well, a holy well surrounded by a chapel, which has been known since Roman times. The well has been a pilgrimage since about 660 when Saint Winefride was beheaded there by Caradog who attempted to attack her. Pilgrims worldwide visit the well, which is one of the Seven Wonders of Wales and the town is known as The Lourdes of Wales.
Football in Holywell was first established in 1893 when Holywell FC  became one of the seven founder members of the North Wales Coast League, playing on a ground known as Ffordd Fer (Short Way) The club went to the wall in 1902, but three years later a new club took their place in the shape of Holywell United, rejoining the NWC League for the 1912-13 season. The club later played in the newly formed north division of the Welsh National League between 1921 until 1929, when they changed their name to Holywell Arcadians.The new name brought success as the club were Welsh football League Champions twice in three seasons at the turn of the 1930s.
After the Second World War Holywell Town were formed with a new home at Halkyn Road, where they’ve played ever since and also adopted the nickname of “The  Wellmen” The club enjoyed instant cup success and switched from the West Cheshire League to the Welsh League North in 1949, winning the title in 1952-53. From the mid-1960s Holywell played in local leagues and also the Clwyd League until becoming founder members of the Cymru League in 1990 and the League of Wales two years later. The Wellmen currently play in the Welsh Alliance League Division 1 after being relegated from the Cymru Alliance in the 2005–06 season.
Halkyn Road is found on the edge of the town centre. The main spectator facilities are found along one side of the ground, alongside the changing rooms and clubhouse which is in the middle of a refurbishment. There are two similar wooden covered stands one side kitted out with red painted bench seats and the other with terracing, which also houses the Wellman’s Retreat snackbar.  In between is another covered enclosure with seats and standing each side of the players tunnel, which is finished off with the club name on the facade. The dugouts are at the far side, with three sides of open hard standing. Lighting is provided with four lamp poles on each side and there’s a prominent slope running across the pitch. 
Hollywell ran out comfortable winners in the Division 1 fixture with Llandyrnog United. The Wellmen took an early lead through Sam Jones, who fired in a right foot shot after four minutes and doubled their advantage with a close range bullet header from Luke Tyson just before half time. The hosts missed a hatfull of chances in the second half, including Sam Jones missing a penalty, but they did manage to beat the ‘keeper in the 69th minute when Graeme Williams but pressure on the defenders goal line clearance, the ball bouncing off his shins and rolling over the goal line.
So a good start to the day, a decent game and a warm hospitality provided by the staff and volunteers.
Matchday Stats
HTFC 3(Jones 4 Tyson 47 Williams 69) LUFC 0
Att.377
Top Bloke - Sam Jones(Holywell Town)
Programme

413. Roe Plas Meadows
St Asaph City 3v1 Mochdre Sports
Welsh Alliance Division 2
2.15pm ko
We arrived in the birthplace of former Liverpool, Leeds United(cannot really count Newcastle) and Welsh international Ian Rush with a good hour to spare before kick off. With a population of just under 3,500 and built around its ancient cathedral, St Asaph(Welsh: Llanelwy) is the newest city in Wales, giving its status as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. According to some historians the Roman fort of Varae sat on the site of the Cathedral, but it’s believed to have developed around a sixth-century Celtic monastery founded by Saint Kentigern, and is now home to the small fourteenth century St Asaph Cathedral. This is dedicated to Saint Asaph (also spelt in Welsh as Asaff), its second bishop. After finding a good parking space we visited the cathedral, which is the smallest in Britain, measuring just 182ft long and 68ft wide.





Football in St Asaph has been played since the 1880’s, although no official records of the club exist until the 1970’s when the city was represented in the Clwyd League, where they finished runners-up in 1976-77. The club folded in 1980, but reformed ten years later and rejoined the league, becoming champions in 1992-93 and promotion to the Welsh Alliance. The progress of the club game to an abrupt halt, when after an arson attack on the ground they were forced to call it a day. In 2000 a junior club was formed and the senior team was re-established in 2006 after the Council built a new pavilion at the ground. The new set up have made terrific progress, winning three promotions to rise from the Clwyd League Division 2 up to the Welsh Alliance for the 2013-14 season, finishing fourth in their debut campaign in Division 2.
The entrance to the football ground at Roe Plas Meadows is through a parkway where the pavilion and car park is at one side of the pitch. There are a couple of slap-dash dugouts erected on this side with the rest of the ground roped off from the grass verges, with some fancy yellow goal nets. The club were very friendly and they made every effort to make us welcome. They were also very grateful that the threatening forecast of heavy rain had held off throughout our stay. 
The second game took a similar pattern to the first with a comfortable win for the home side against Mochdre Sports. The hosts took the lead with a breakaway goal on 21 minutes, after defending a free kick, they won possession and played a through ball to Duncan Midgley who ran on to calmly round the ‘keeper and score. The points were clinched on the hour mark with two goals in the space of a minute, with Midgley grabbing his second followed by a left foot shot by the unmarked Dave Evans. With a quarter of an hour remaining the visitors pulled one back when Jordan Phillips intercepted a chested back pass by the defender to nip in and score, but it was a mere consolation as St Asaph were worthy winners.



Matchday Stats 
SACFC 3(Midgley 21,61 Evans 62) MSFC 1(Phillips 75)
Att.254
Top Bloke - Duncan Midgley(St Asaph City)
Programme


414. Y Morfa View Leisure Centre
Kinmel Bay Sports 2v2 Glan Conwy
Welsh Alliance Division 2
5.15pm ko
For our finally game and the last of ten matches over the Welsh Hop weekend, we headed up to the coast to Kinmel Bay (Welsh: Bae Cinmel) in Conwy county borough, which is a suburb of Rhyl and lies across the River Clwyd in the neighbouring county of Denbighshire.
Kinmel Bay Sports FC is a relatively new club, originating from the relocation of Abergele Rovers in 2011. The club won the Clwyd League treble of league, cup and Challenge Cup two years running and joined the Welsh Alliance, where they won their first trophy at this level just last season in the Lock Stock League Cup.
KBSFC "Proper ground"
Considering the atrocious conditions this was the best game of the day, so top marks to both teams for producing a good open contest. Glan Conwy raced into a two goal lead in the opening twenty minutes, the first through Richie Orme  who picked the ball up in midfield before racing in on goal and firing the ball under the ‘keepers body. The lead was doubled when Luke Fountain robbed the ball off a defender to run on and score, but the hosts halved the deficit on 32 minutes with a well taking free kick on the edge of the box by Kyle Luffman. The second half began with the heavy pissing rain, pissing everyone off, but an early goal by Ryan Woods, nodding in at the near post from a corner had the game all square at 2-2. The pitch held up well during the game and both teams continued to battle for the winning goal, but it wasn’t to be and overall a draw was a fair result.
This game was actually postponed on Thursday due to a fall out between the club and the owners of the leisure centre over unauthorised improvements to the pitch. To cut a long story short the upshot is the match had to be played on another pitch, with the Welsh FA allowing the game to take place as long as cover was provided for subs and club staff. The lads at GroundhopUK had serious negotiations to get the game on with both sides in the debate acting like spoilt bairns. Laurence promises to spill the beans on this debacle, so keep an eye on his blog this week for the juicy details.
The main pitch at Y Morfa View Leisure Centre is behind the building, having wooden dugouts and is fully fenced off. Facilities for spectators is in the leisure centre with the food hall actually being in a sports hall with a food hatch and chairs provided. It’s a pity we didn’t have a basketball or a football on hand because the hoop nets and goals were there if anyone fancied a game. The second pitch used for the game was at the bottom end of the complex, where spectators were restricted to one side of the pitch, although some found an alternative dry haven, sheltered by trees, bushes or in Lee’s case in the neighboring kiddies playground inside the space rocket.

While its hard to fault any clubs hosting a groundhop game I have major issues with those at Kinmel Bay Sports. The main gripe being the half-time raffle. If anyone had never ever been to a non-league football match in their life and I asked them “when is a half-time raffle drawn?” you’d have to be as thick as pig-shit not to realise to answer is in the question. Near the end of the game we headed into the leisure centre to find out about the raffle and the football scratch card which we had also had our hard earned pennies on. The lad and the lasses who sold the tickets were nowhere to be seen, so we asked the club chairman and he said he was sick of people asking about it. Afterwards I headed to the car while Lee and Katie stayed back to find out what was happening, and the chairman told them that they should forget about the raffle and just be grateful they put a match on, which makes you realise what an absolute tool this club has in charge and I can fully comprehend the hard work GroundhopUK had to endure to provide a third match today.




Matchday Stats
KBSFC 2(Luffman 32 Woods 48) GCFC 2(Orme 8 Fountain 19)
Att.221
Top Bloke - James Jones(Kinmel Bay)
Programme

Due to my comedy sat nav, heavy rain,poor visibility, fog, 50 mile an hour stretches on the M62/A1 and dropping off Lee and Katie, I finally got home at 11.30. It was four and a half hours since we were at the match but my legs and feet we still soaking wet, so when I got home it was a hot bubble bath, cup of tea and a bottle of Old Peculiar in that order. It was a long eventful day where apart from getting soaked to the skin, being part of the greatest half time raffle rip-off and one of us getting stung in the eye by a wasp, it was quite an enjoyable day out in north Wales.  

Spondoolicks
Matchday ticket for all three matches including programme £14
@Holywell
Pin badge £3
Nicey spicey sausage sandwhich £1.50
(Courtesy of Chris Berezai - cheers!)
Bubble & squeak £1
Coffee 80p
@St Asaph 
Pin badge £3
Chocolate brownie £1
Tea 50p
@Kinmel Bay
Pin badge £3
Chicken and mushroom pie £2
Bovril £1.50


Foetoes (64 pictures from all three matches)

Pic of the Week Cup 2014 - Round 4

100FgC Squad #30 Matt Ross - Taubate(Brazil)

100FgC Squad#195 Graeme Holmes

FB Group Member Paul Paxton - Windsor

100FgC Squad#4 Jack Warner - Bury Town

FB Group Member Mark Evans - SC Lustenau(Austria)

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