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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 - 488 Keanie Park

Johnstone Burgh 2v0 Thorniewood United
West of Scotland League Central Division First
Saturday 19th September 2015
Whereabouts and Whatsabouts
The Renfrewshire town of Johnstone lies 12 miles west of Glasgow city centre and just 3 miles from the neighbouring town of Paisley, found on the edge of the Greater Glasgow Urban Area. 
The town was a planned community created and designed by the local Laird, George Ludovic Houston who held an estate in the town, the remains of which are known as Johnstone Castle.
The town’s early population was around 1,500, which included the local estate and rural hinterland.George Houston became 4th Laird of Johnstone in 1757 at the age of 14. During his 58 years as Laird, George extended Johnstone Castle, developed the extensive coal mines at nearby Quarrelton and opened lime works at Floor Craig. In 1781 he began selling land for housing near the Bridge of Johnstone for the layout of a new town. Houston designed street plans, two mirroring civic squares: Houstoun Square and Ludovic Square and by 1794 the town had gained its current parish church.
Johnstone developed through its main industry of thread-making and cotton weaving, with mills powered by the Black Cart Water which runs to the north of the town. The community expanded in the 1930s with freshly built residential estates, which addressed the problem of population density in the historic area of the town. Nowadays it chiefly serves as a commuter town for Paisley and Glasgow with a population of almost 16,000.
Plantpot History
During the many years writing this blog I’ve researched hundreds of clubs, but the formation of Johnstone Burgh in 1956 is quite unique. The club emerged from a newspaper article in the "Johnstone & Linwood Gazette” after a journalist had been ordered out of the newspaper's office by his gaffer with orders not to return until he had a story. The journalist in question stood on the corner of Johnstone's Rankine Street and proceeded to ask locals their thoughts about forming a new football club to replace the former Scottish league side Johnstone FC.
From the article a new Junior football club was born and The Burgh soon found success, winning the treble of Central League, the West of Scotland Cup and the Glasgow Dryburgh Cup in 1958-59. Under the leadership of Jimmy Blackburn they won two league titles in the 1960s, as well as lifting the prestigious Junior Cup twice. In 1964 they beat Cambuslang Rangers 3-0 in a replay after a 1-1 draw, then four years later a second tie was again required, after a 2-2 draw they overcame Glenrothes 4-3 with Hugh Glishan grabbing the winner in extra time.
It wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that the Burgh reached their third final and yet again the final finished in a draw. The club faced Whitburn with goals from Colin Lindsay and John McLay saw the match finish all square after extra time. Johnstone Burgh won on penalties in their semi-final at Love Street, but failed to repeat this success in the 2000 final, losing the penalty shoot out by four goals to three.
The following season they won the Central League Premier Division and since the rejigging of the leagues, they were Central District Second Division champions in 2009-10. Last term they finished runners-up to Rossvale in the Second Division, so return to Central Division One after they were relegated in 2011.
Ground no.488 Keanie Park 
(Scottish Grounds 68 SJFA grounds 21 Lifetime Junior Cup winners 15/27)

The club have been based at James Y. Keanie Park since their formation, named after the builder who donated the land on which the ground was built. There is a barrel roofed covered terrace at the far side which sits on the halfway line with grass banking behind both goals. At the paying entrance side there's the main building which houses the changing rooms, toilets and the snack bar. In front of this is a wooden shelter on the grass verge, with a few terraced steps leading down to the brick dugouts. 

For a number of years there have been plans in place to relocate to a new ground at Thomas Shanks Memorial Park less than one mile away, built in conjunction with the local council. I don’t know if this will ever come to fruition, but there has to be a solution to the drainage problems, which makes Keanie Park prone to flooding resulting in the regular postponements.
The Match
Johnstone faced table toppers Thorniewood United, who went into this game with maximum points from their first three fixtures. The Burgh wearing their traditional all red kit with white trimmings were under the cosh for most of the first half, with the visitors from Viewpark creating the better chances. 
As the game progressed it was beginning to look likely that a solitary goal would settle the result. That golden opportunity fell to Jack Heron on 73 minutes, who latched onto a flicked header to find himself clear on goal, making no mistake to fire under the 'keeper and break the deadlock. 
The hosts almost immediately blew their lead, when just two minutes later a reckless challenge just inside the penalty area gave the referee an easy decision to award a spot kick. The Thorniewood number 7 Lennon had been in the running for my top bloke of the match award, but his penalty was saved and the easier chance from the follow up was blasting over the bar and into the grass banking behind the goal.
The Burgh wrapped up the victory two minutes from time when a neat ball was threaded into the path of substitute Jason Hardie, who fired a first time effort past the Wood 'keeper, then a minute later Thorniewood's miserable afternoon was complete when Cherrie was sent off for handball just outside the box. This win puts the Burgh level with Thorniewood and there’s now five clubs sharing top spot after winning three of their first four fixtures.

Matchday Stats and Spon
JBFC 2(Heron 73 Hardie 88) TUFC 0
Top Bloke - Harp(Johnstone Burgh)
Admission £5
Coffee £1
My Matchday
My original plan for today was to tick off one of the East Region clubs, with Whitburn Juniors first choice as a return to their own ground is imminent. After the release of the latest round of fixtures, it turned out to be the only option in the east from my t'do list. That was until they announcing on Wednesday that Central Park still isn't ready yet, so a quick look at the fixtures meant booking further trains to Johnstone Burgh, as this was one of only two choices available in the west.
My type of boozer
I left Newcastle on the 0945 and travelled straight to Johnstone, without refreshment stops in Edinburgh or Glasgow, so I arrived just over three hours from my departure. During my preparation I discovered there are two pubs in the Good Beer Guide in Johnstone so I had a few bevvys in Callum’s and Rennies before the 2 o'clock kick off. 
There is a regular train service back to Glasgow, so I was in The Horse Shoe Bar by half four to check out the incoming full time scores, which was disastrous in regards to my two teams on each side of the River Tyne. My day out was complete with a drink at the Jinglin Geordie in Edinburgh before catching the 1900 train home. 
Another good day north of the border which now takes project: “From the Toon to the Scottish Joons” (working title) up to 15 ticks from the 27 on the list. I’m satisfied with the progress I’m making and well on course to finish it in the next 12 months. There won’t be another trip now until two planned visits in November, but there’s already obstacles blocking my path, however I’m up for the challenge to make sure I hit the north twice before Christmas.

I'm writing a book on the winners of the Scottish Junior Cup over the last 50 years, which will include a more detailed account of my trip to Johnstone. This chapter features a former Burgh player who lives just down to road from me and more insight on the GBG bible. 

Bevvy Almanac
Callum's(High St)
Jaw Brew 'Drop' (4.2%)****
Strathaven 'Ginger Jock' (4%)****
Rennie's(Collier Street)
Caledonia Best***
(no Real Ale)
The usual Bitter & Twisted in The Horse Shoe****+
Jinglin Geordie
Inveralmond 'Fair Maid' (3.6%)****

Edit. Stupid, stupid me. I've just realised(Monday afternoon)that I had walked into Colliers Bar, not Rennie's.

Foetoes  (Matchday album of 36 pictures from Keanie Park)

My Matchday - 487 Plumpton Park

Eccleshill United 2v4 Heaton Stannington
FA Vase First Qualifying Round
Saturday 5th September 2015
 This date has been set in the diary for almost a year, the start of the FA Vase and also the beginning of another football odyssey for Alan Oliver and Calvin Wade. During the 2013-14 season they started off on the road to the final of the FA Cup at West Didsbury & Chorlton,following the winning team through every round, with the eventual finishing line being Arsenal’s triumph over Hull City at Wembley. Last season it was the same format in the FA Trophy, where they soon stumbled upon North Ferriby United, watching every minute of The Villagers fabulous cup run which cumulated in Wembley success. 

Last year I spoke to Alan and promised I would be their at the beginning, the end and hopefully somewhere in between, on the last of their FA silverware trilogy. As Alan lives in Manchester, we decided to meet somewhere in between, at a ground both of us hadn’t visited with Yorkshire the obvious central point. When the draw was made in early July, it provided us the perfect location as Eccleshill United were drawn at home to Heaton Stannington. 
The club are based in the village of Wrose, which is a civil parish in the City of Bradford in West Yorkshire, about 3 miles north of Bradford city centre. The village sits on top of a hillside which is around 600 feet above sea level, overlooking the Aire valley and Bradford valley.

The football club formed in 1948 originally playing in the Bradford Amateur League, followed by the West Riding County Amateur League. They joined the Northern Counties East League Division Three in 1985, before the league switched to a two division format. Eccleshill United have twice been promoted in 1987 and 1997 and also relegated twice, having played in Division One since 2009. The Eagles won the West Riding County Cup in 2014 and their best performance in the FA Vase was in 1999-2000 when they reached the fifth round.

The Vase draw didn’t just deliver an ideal destination, but I scored with the away ball out of the bag, as one of my local Northern League club’s Heaton Stannington head to Plumpton Park. This meant my transport on the players and supporters bus was soon sorted after contacting the Stan’s travel agent James Colwill on twitter. The Heaton charabanc left Grounsell Park at 10.15 and after a piss and pastie stop at Wetherby services, we arrived at the sponsored named Mitton Group Stadium just before half one.

Eccleshill United started life playing on the recreation ground and then on various pitches in the area before purchasing a plot of land on Plumpton Park in 1963. Changes and major improvements were made when the club joined the NCEL, so the ground was fully enclosed by 1990. The main stand sits on the halfway line, decked out with 225 blue and white flip seats. There's a covered enclosure at the turnstile entrance behind the goal, with the refreshment cabin and changing rooms at each side. The team dugouts are opposite the stand with the rest of the ground open with hard standing all 'round. The overall capacity is 2,225 and the record crowd is 715 for a game against Bradford City in the 1996-97 season, the Bantams have also used the ground as a home base for their reserve side
 I had a few pints in the clubhouse before Alan, Calvin and fellow traveller Gordon the ref arrived just after 2pm. It was good see Alan again and meet the other two lads for the first time, although I feel I already know them pretty well, having read about their adventures in ‘Another Saturday and Sweet FA’ and ‘Brutal Giants & the Village King’ the two books Calvin wrote on their road to Wembley over the last two seasons.

The lads feared a goalless draw but I told them there was no need to worry as my goal average so far this season after 30 games is 4.43. My goal fest confidence was soon confirmed as the Stan took an early lead from the penalty spot, after a foul on Burns was converted by Jon Wright after seven minutes, but the lead was short lived when Luke Harrop got on the end of a right wing ball to nip in and level the score six minutes later. 
Heaton got their noses back in front when a square ball from Telford on the right wing teed up Matt Hayton to slot home, but yet again the Eagles soon equalised when a corner kick was met at the near post by Jermaine Springer to volley home.
Two's each at the break with the game finely balanced with the outcome unpredictable as the second half got under way, although it would be interesting to see how Heaton would react to going behind for the first time. In the 55th minute a free kick into the box was headed clear and fell nicely to Lewis Burns on the edge of the box , who unleashed a splendid right foot volley to put the Stan ahead for the third time.
The hosts applied the pressure late on, desperate for an equaliser to take the game into extra time. Some excellent saves from Dan Rule maintained Heaton's lead until the match was settled deep into injury time, when the ball was flicked into the path of Ben Telford who fired a first time effort past Joe Stead  to make it 4-2. In the end an enjoyable game and a cracking result for Heaton Stannington, as the club recorded their first win in the FA Vase for 34 years.
 At the game I also met 100FgC Squad #161 Michael Swaffield for the first time, who had travelled with his mate Keith from Saltaire to come and say hello and meet for a drink. We staying in the clubhouse until 5.50 before the Stan bus hit the road, doing a detour through Boroughbridge where we stopped off at the Three Horse Shoes and The Crown, before finally getting back to Grounsell Park at quarter to ten.
Overall a cracking day out, I enjoyed travelling with the Stan players and supporters, who were all very friendly and seem a good bunch of lads. However for me this day was mostly about the start of another adventure for three lads from Lancashire, who will be following today’s winners at Chester-le-Street in the next round on Saturday 3rd October, and I’ll also be their with them for the next chapter of ‘The Unbreakable Vase’, which is a smashing title for a book ... I wonder who came up with that incredible idea?

Matchday Stats and Spondoolicks

EUFC 2(Harrop 13 Springer 38) HSFC 4(Wright 7pen Hayton 27 Burns 55 Telford 90+4)
Top Bloke - Ben Telford(Heaton Stannington)
Admission £5
Programme £1
Mince beef and onion pie £1
Coffee £1
Tetley Bitter £2.10 pint

Foetoes (32 pictures from Eccleshill United)

Alan Oliver
The matches Alan attended in the FA Cup, FA Trophy and also this season’s FA Vase run is all part of his charity work for The Christie, a charity which is close to Alan’s heart having lost his mother-in-law Pat to cancer a few years ago. You can support Alan in his latest road to Wembley be donated on his charity page at

Calvin Wade
You can read about the lads road to Wembley in Calvin’s two previous publications ‘Another Saturday & Sweet FA’ and ‘Brutal Giants & The Village King’ which are both available in paperback and Kindle additions from Amazon. 

My Matchday - 486 Rakesmoor Lane

Holker Old Boys 0v2 Dunston UTS
FA Cup Preliminary Round
Saturday 29th August 2015
Following on from catching Dunston’s emphatic win in the FA Cup at Crook Town a fortnight ago, I was keen to see them progress further in the competition. After my Saturday shift at work I jumped into the car and drove to the tip of the Furness peninsula from their Preliminary Round tie with Holker Old Boys.

The football club started life as a school team, formed by the under-16s from the Holker Central Secondary School in 1936. The club originally competed in the West Lancashire League before joining the North West Counties Football League Division Two in 1991, winning promotion in their third season.
The club played at step 5 for five seasons until they were relegated in 1999. The closest they’ve come to returning to the NWCL top division was last season, when after a 5th place finish they lost the play-off semi-final match 3-1 away at Hanley Town.
The club play in Barrow-in-Furness, a town I visited back in 2009 for what turned out to be a Christmas cracker. Their home ground is found just off the A590, on the outskirts of the town next to the Barrow Golf Club. The club have played at Rakesmoor Lane since 1972, which has a capacity of 1,750, made up of a 220 seated stand and open standing all around. The stand is at the entrance between the corner flag and the goal, with the clubhouse and changing rooms down one side. There is also some cover on this side but the majority of the roof is missing. Opposite is the team dugouts and there are three sets of lights at each side. Rakesmoor has nice panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, but its exposed location means it’s a bit of a wind trap, so an August visit was ideal.

The biggest attendance at Rakesmoor was 1,240 for a cup game with neighbours Barrow in 1995, although their record gate was 2,300 against F.C. United of Manchester in the 2005–06 season. The match was held at Craven Park, the home ground of Rugby League side Barrow Raiders due to the large away support.
I pulled into the car park just before 2.30, where there wasn’t any spectators around as they were all crammed into the bar watching the Newcastle match. I paid the gentleman at the turnstile £4 for admission and inquired about a programme, but they were all sold out as they don’t print many because of a lack of demand. I went into the clubhouse and caught the dying embers of the game and saw a bloke sitting with a programme, who wasn’t a Dunston fan and judging by his southern accent he didn’t support Holker either, although I deducted he must be a groundhopper judging by the haversacks him and his two mates had with them. 
When I visit a new ground I like to get a programme, but if I don’t manage to trouser one I won’t get too upset, however if possible I try and get a photo of the issue instead. I approached the gentleman and when he saw me coming he quickly but the programme away in his giant bag. I said “excuse me” three times before he finally responded, in which time the paperchaser had zipped his bag closed. I asked if I could take a photograph and his reply was “I’ll let you take a picture but that’s all you can do with it” Well, what did he think I was going to do with his valuable piece of paper? Take it into the bog and wipe my arse with it!
When the game started it was Dunston who kicked against the breeze and up the slope in the first half. After an even contest they took the lead after on the half hour mark, when Luke Gilhespy won the ball in midfield and threaded a ball through to Steven Richardson, who danced ‘round the defender to make himself room for a shot, before firing past the keeper from 12 yards.
Richardson could have had a hat-trick, twice going close in the second half before the game was wrapped up on 76 minutes. A long ball from Wilkinson sent Bulford on his way on the left wing, whose cross picked out the incoming Alex Francis for an easy finish.
A determined Holker side tried to get themselves back in the game, but overall it was a comfortable passage into the First Qualifying Round for Dunston UTS, who face a tricky away tie to either North Shields or Kendal Town on the 12th September.

Matchday Stats
HOBAFC 0 DUTSFC 2(Richardson 30 Francis 67)
Top Bloke - Steven Richardson(Dunston UTS)
Admission £4
Programme (limited issue)
Coffee £1
Meat & potato pie £1.50 

Foetoes (32 pictures from Rakesmoor)

Around The Alliance - part fifteen

483. Oxford Centre Ground
Longbenton 1v1 Gosforth Bohemian
Northern Alliance Division One
Wednesday 12th August 2015

 Longbenton is a district of North Tyneside, which is largely an extensive estate originally built as municipal housing by Newcastle City Council in the 1950s and 60s. Longbenton FC first joined the Northern Alliance in 1988, winning promotion from Division Two in 1989-90 followed by the First Division title in 1992-93. The club left the league in 1998 before rejoined in 2012, placed in Division One this season after finishing fourth last term.
Their home ground is at the Oxford Centre, which is a large community facility with the pitch set back from the main building opposite the bowling green. The pitch is fully enclosed with fencing and greenery.

 Visitors Gosforth Bohs dominated the early stages and should have taking a tenth minute lead when a penalty kick from Mark Wright came back off the post. They were made to pay for those missed chances, when a free kick from the right flank was met at the far post by a firm header by Stephen Thompson, to give Longbenton a 33rd minute lead.
Bohs got back on level terms three minutes before the break, when Kev Turnbull was put clear on goal and produced a cool finish. Both teams had decent chances to claim the three points in the second half but on reflection a draw was a fair result.

Matchday Stats
LFC 1(Turnbull 33)GBFC 1(Thompson 42)
Top Bloke - Stephen Thompson(Longbenton)

484. Isabella Playing Fields Blyth Isabella 1V3 Shilbottle CW Northern Alliance Division One Wednesday 19th August 2015
 Blyth Isabella are a relatively new club, joining the Alliance in 2012 and winning the Division Two title in their second campaign. The club are based at the Isabella Playing Fields in the town, but according to the league website they have moved to Cowpen Park. I arrived at the ground five minutes before the 6.15 kick off to find the place deserted, before quickly finding my way along to Isabella where the players were just entering the field. 
The club should be moving to the new place in time for their next home fixture, so I've scored for an extra ground having previously not ticked off this original home.The ground is on Ogle Drive having a roped off pitch with changing room facilities behind the goal, next to the nearby kiddies park. 
 Isabella faced Division One newcomer's Shilbottle CW who dominated the first half but were unable to beat 'keeper Tony Guy who was in fine form between the sticks. They finally made the breakthrough five minutes after the restart, when Matty Graham headed home unmarked from a corner kick. 
The hosts equalised just after the hour mark with their first decent offensive move, when left-back Steven Turnbull made a good overlapping run and fired in a powerful left foot shot into the far corner. 
During the match there was a bitter undercurrent both on and off the pitch which all came to a head on 73 minutes when a late challenge resulted in a mass brawl, with no cards surprisingly produced from the refs pocket. 
Shilbottle finished the match on top with Josh Hay finally finding the target, arriving on the end of a free kick to fire in at the far post, before Graham grabbed his second to wrap up the points in the dying minutes. 
Overall a really enjoyable game, the match nearly as entertaining as the sledging happening on the sidelines, which as a neutral observer I found quite amusing.
Matchday Stats
BIFC 1(Turnbull 62) SCWFC 3(Graham 50,85 Hay 83)
Top Bloke - Josh Hay(Shilbottle CW)

485.Shilbottle Welfare Ground
Shilbottle CW 6v0 Cramlington Town
Northern Alliance Division One
Saturday 22nd August 2015

 Shilbottle is a village found just off the A1 motorway in Northumberland, 3 miles south-east of Alnwick. The village was build around Shilbottle Colliery which was bought for £50 by the English Co-operative Wholesale Society at the turn of the 20th century. The mine was upgraded and a new village of 170 houses were built, including some aged miners cottages. Shilbottle Colliery was the only pit in the area where workers had a pension scheme and were given a week's paid holiday. The National Coal Board took over after the Second World War, with production continuing until the ‘70s decline and the pit eventually closing in 1981.

The football club originally played in the Northern Alliance between 1993 and ‘96 and returned last season after winning the North Northumberland League in 2013-14. They easily won the Division Two title last term, winning 25 of their 30 matches and amassing 142 goals.
In September 2010 the new Shilbottle Community Hall was opened at the ground, costing over £1m which included a £100,000 contribution from the Football Foundation. The pitch is build up above ground level and fully railed off, with grass banking at the far side.
 Shilbottle continued from where they left off on Wednesday night with an impressive gubbin of Cramlington Town. They made an early breakthrough when Josh Hay linked up well with Callum Brooks to fire his side into the lead, before Brooks did well to stay onside and easily beat the goalkeeper with a one-on-one on 28 minutes. Just before the break a ball from the left found Hay who nodded the ball into the path of Brooks who hit a first time effort in off the post to make it 3-0.
Five minutes after the restart a foul on Hay in the box meant Brooks could complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot. Having seen Shilbottle twice this week they look a good bet to win their third consecutive league title, they seem to have a good squad of players with the three substitutes all playing their part, one of which set up Hay to make it five on 76 minutes.  
In the final few minutes full back Ryan Douglas rifled in a shot from 20 yards to bring up the half dozen and complete an impressive display from the home side.

 Matchday Stats
SCWFC 6(Hay 8,76 Brooks 28,45,51pen Douglas 88) CTFC 0
Top Bloke - Callum Brooks(Shilbottle CW)

Revisiting Millfield

It’s been donkeys years since I last visited The Sir Tom Cowie Millfield which means the ground has never featured on this website. I travelled down to County Durham to watch Dunston take on The Black and Ambers in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup and to also take an album of pictures for the blog.

The club have played at Millfield since the club formed in 1889, purchasing the ground from the local rugby club for £625. In 1896 they joined the Northern League from the Bishop Auckland and District League.
They won the first of five FA Amateur Cup in 1901 defeating King's Lynn 3–0 after a replay. Further success in the competition came at the old Wembley Stadium with victories over Bishop Auckland (1953) Barnet (1959) Hounslow Town (1962) and Enfield (1964)

The Northern League was first won in 1914-15 and further championships have been few and far between, claiming the title in 1926–27, 1952–53, 1958–59, 1962–63.

Crook made the first of three tours to Spain in 1913  which included matches against played Barcelona, who they played a total of 10 times following subsequent tours in 1921 and 1922. Crook born Jack Greenwell  played on the first tour and stayed on to play for Barcelona. Jack went on to manage the Catalan club and also the Spanish national team before coaching all over the world during the 1930's.

The ground is one of the best in the Northern League with a traditional stand and large covered terrace on one side. There's a standing terrace behind one goal and hard standing with grass banking on the far side and behind the top goal.
Dunston continued their fabulous start to the season with an emphatic 6-0 win at Millfield, coasting into the Preliminary Round where they will face Holker Old Boys in a fortnights time.

First Visit
Ground no.99
Thursday 20th November 2003
Barcelona Cup
Crook Town 1 (Morris 43)
Newcastle United 10(og 7 Ambrose 10 O'Brien 19, 21 Guy 30, 32, 71, 89 Gate 76 Brittain 86)

Latest Visit
Saturday 15th August 2015
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Crook Town 0 
Dunston UTS 6(Bulford 6 Wilkinson 13 Smith Richardson Halliday 77 Kemp 86OG)
Admission £5
Programme £1

Matchday Album (33 pictures)