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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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Hop Scotch

Now there’s a touch of spring in the air, it’s time to resume with my travels, starting with a trip into the Kingdom of Fife for three of the matches in the organised East of Scotland League Groundhop. That hint of springtime decided to make way for a return to winter conditions, with snow forecast for the weekend, so I decided to just fear the worst with any football being a bonus. As it turned out, apart from a few snow flurries and it being bitter cold, everything went nicely to plan.  I headed north on the 0738 train to Edinburgh, then caught the Scotrail service to Burntisland, arriving at 1015 for the first match of my Scottish treble. 

599. Recreation Park

Burntisland is a royal burgh and parish on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth in Fife. (population over 6,000) The town is known for its award-winning sandy beach and the 15th-century Rossend Castle, plus the traditional summer fair and Highland games day.

Burntisland Shipyard Football Club formed from the Burntisland Shipbuilding Company's recreation fund. The workers weekly subscription had been established in 1919 for recreational activities, such as cricket, bowls and the formation of two football teams at junior and juvenile level. The football team played in local leagues until 1925 when the club was properly established, joining the Lothian Amateur Football League and playing in the Scottish Cup in 1929. The club joined the Kirkcaldy and District Amateur League in 1959, followed by the Kingdom Caledonian Football League, before joining the East of Scotland League in 2012.

Recreation Park was bought by the shipyard, who built a pavilion to enable the playing of cricket and football. The ground has a covered enclosure centrally at one side with the team dugouts opposite. The changing rooms with refreshment bar and the club shop/toilets cabin are set back behind the goal.

Burntisland Shipyard(10th) v Preston Athletic(4th)
East of Scotland League matchday 17v19
11am ko

On my arrival at the ground I was promised loads of goals by the lad taking the admission money at the dugouts entrance. As the first half progressed his prediction looked way off the mark until Greg Binnie nipped in to fire Preston into the lead on 38 minutes. Shippey replied just before the break with a superb strike from Tom Graham, his banana shot from the edge of the box curling into the far corner of the ‘keeper’s left hand post.
The visitors got to grips with the strong wind which faced them in the second half, regaining the lead when Jonny Grotlin raced clear on the left flank, keeping his composure to draw the ‘keeper and finish with confidence.
Burntisland’s chances of getting back into game weren’t helped by the dismissal of Rab Kinnaird for stamping on the opposing full back on 76 minutes, but they should have at least grabbed a point. With just over five minutes remaining they were gifted a penalty, but Jon Galloway’s weak shot was gathered by Craig Pennycuick to give the three points to the Panners.

Matchday Stats
BSFC 1 (Graham 45)
PAFC 2 (Binnie 38 Grotlin 62)
Admission £5
Programme £2
Pin badge £3
Coffee and bacon sarny £2

600. New Central Park
Kelty is a former coal mining village in Fife (population over 6,000) situated on the Fife/Kinross-shire border next to the M90 Edinburgh to Perth road.
Kelty Hearts Amateur Football Club formed in 1975 beginning life in the Kirkcaldy & District Amateur Football League. After major work on New Central Park the Jam Tarts were accepted into the Junior ranks, joining the Fife Junior League in 1980. (champions 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1996–97, 1998–99, 2002–03) The club progressed up to the highest level of the East Juniors, winning the East Super League in 2014-15 and 2016-17. Last summer the club decided to make the switch to senior level with ambitions to reach the SPFL, by joining the East of Scotland League, step 6 of the Scottish pyramid.
New Central Park has a capacity of 2,271, with two identical covered enclosures each side of the dugouts, each having room for around 500 spectators. There is also a 250 capacity enclosure on the school end with raised hard standing behind both goals.
The changing rooms, social club and other amenities are below the main spectator area, with the latest 3G Greenfields MX surface raised up from the entrance. The biggest attendance at the ground is 2,300 when Rangers provided the opposition for Stefan Winiarski’s testimonial in 2012.
Kelty Hearts(1st) v Tweedmouth Rangers(13th)
East of Scotland League matchday 19v17
1.45pm ko

The club with the 100% winning record against the team with the 100% losing record could only mean one thing… I was going to beat my own personal record of a 12-0 victory today.
That didn’t look possible after half an hour gone, after a Scott Dalziel header had restored Kelty’s lead, having earlier gone ahead through Brian Ritchie, only for Tweedmouth to equalise when Lewis McKenna lobbed the ‘keeper, which came as more of a surprise to him and his teammates, than the watching spectators.
Just before half time a sliding volley by Neil McCabe, was followed by Errol Douglas netting in injury time to make it 4-1 at the break, with Hearts also having three goals(or was it four?, I lost count) goals chalked off, which would have set me well on my way to beating my record score.
Dalziel headed home the fifth with 52 minutes gone, followed by Stephan Husband making it a half dozen scoring the first of two direct free-kicks from outside the box. Substitute Stuart Cargill heading home with his first touch of the ball to make it super-seven with still half an hour left to play.
A goal lull meant we had to wait over a quarter of an hour for the next strike by Douglas on 76 minutes, with Shaun Greig cracking home a right foot drive and Douglas completing his hat trick to make it 11-1 on 85 minutes.

There was still time to equal or beat my highest tally, but The Hearts declared on eleven, which took their total to 132 league goals for the season.

Matchday Stats
KHFC 11(Ritchie 11 Dalziel 28,52 McCabe 43 Douglas 45+2, 76, 85 Husband 56,80 Cargill 60 Greig 82)
TRFC 1 (McKenna 22)
Admission  £6
Programme £2
Pin badge £3
Mince pie £1.50 Coffee £1

601. Oriam Indoor Arena

The Club was founded around 1945 as Heriot-Watt College F.C., before Heriot-Watt became a university and moved most of its enterprise to its new campus at Riccarton, in the west end of Edinburgh in 1971. The Club became Heriot-Watt University F.C. and successfully applied to join the East of Scotland Football League for the 1971–72 season.
The Watt play within the John Brydson Arena on the University campus, but for today's Groundhop game the match is on the indoor 3G synthetic pitch. The Sports Performance Centre, named Oriam opened to the public in August 2016 and has a full-size indoor football pitch(which looks huge) with seated viewing for 500 spectators down one side. The centre is a hive of activity with basketball matches also taking place (and something to watch at half time).

Heriot-Watt University(5th) v Leith Athletic(2nd)
East of Scotland League matchday 22v20
5pm ko

The visitors clawed back a two goal deficit to claim the points with a late goal by Callum Mein.  A brace from Michael Ward had put the Watt in a commanding position, firing in two similar stikes, getting on the end of a left wing cross in the 11th and 33rd minutes.
In the 40th minute a good run and cross down the right wing picked out John Robertson at the back post to half the deficit. Midway through the second half Leith were gifted an equaliser, when the Watt defender dilly-dallied on the ball for too long and was robbed by Daniel Garvey to capitalise on the error.

The hosts were reduced to ten men on 77 minutes after a late lunge from Anton Dows, then ten minutes later Mein curled in the winner from the edge of the box. In injury time Chris Lane was shown a second yellow card to rub salt into their wounds, when at one stage they looked to be coasting to victory.

Matchday Stats

H-WUFC 2 (Ward 11,33)
LAFC 3 (Robertson 40 Garvey 67 Mein 87)
Admission £5
Programme £1
Pin badge £3 Tea 50p

Special thanks to Katie for giving me a lift to Kelty and then onto Dundonald Bluebell, where we met Mark Wilkins for the second half of their game with Bonnyrigg. Katie & Lee were staying in Glenrothes, so Mark played a blinder to drive me down to Edinburgh in time for the last match of the afternoon at Oriam. Also a big thanks to the Groundhop UK team for organising a great hop, which was topped off by a few bevvies in The Booking Office before catching the delayed 2000 train back to Newcastle.

✔598 Walker Activity Dome

Hazlerigg Victory 8-0 Monkseaton
Northern Alliance First Division
Saturday 10th March 2018
Due to problems with the pitch at Hazlerigg Welfare, as well as waiting for the council to replace the boiler which was stolen in December, the club are forced to play their scheduled home fixtures at different venues. Hezzy begin at the Walker Dome ground, followed by two midweek fixtures at Druid Park in Woolsington during March.

I visited Hazlerigg Welfare at the beginning of the season, so you can read about the club and their thrilling win over Killingworth YPC here

The Walker Dome offers a wide range of facilities and sporting activities from trampolining, gymnastics, squash, boxing, plus a variety of team sports.
The centre boasts ten 5-a-side pitches, three 7-a-side pitches and one 11-a-side pitch, which Hazlerigg Welfare used as their “home” pitch for their First Division game with Monkseaton. The pitch is a standard 3G cage found at the far end of the complex.

Hazlerigg Welfare(2nd) v Monkseaton(15th)

Northern Alliance First Division matchday 15/21

Monkseaton will be glad to see the back of Hazlerigg, who made it 20 goals in two games following on from a 12-1 defeat five weeks ago.
The hosts took an early lead through a Rees Farndell header, before Richard Coulson latched on to a through ball to double their lead. The match result was never in doubt once Marty Soulsby played a neat 0ne-two with Ramsay before firing home with twenty minutes gone.  
Hazlerigg seemed to relish playing on the 3G surface, making it 4-0 with a great team goal finished off by Farndell, sliding in at the far post, then just before the break Coulson added his second to make it five.
Soulsby grabbed his second to continue the rout on 52 minutes, with Mitch Ramsay getting in on the scoring act, firing home from the edge of the box. With time running out the home side eventually scored goal number eight, with Soulsby stroking the ball home to finally grab his hat-trick, after he missed several good chances which could have saw Hazlerigg hit double figures for the third time this season.

Matchday Stats
HVFC 8(Farndell 4,24 Coulson 18,33 Soulsby 20,50,82 Ramsay 52)
Entertainment - 9/10
Top Bloke - Richard Coulson (Hazlerigg Victory)

✔597 Nunthorpe & Marton Recreation Ground

Nunthorpe Athletic 1-4 Guisborough United
North Riding Football League Premier Division
Saturday 24th February 2018
 Nunthorpe is a suburb of  Middlesbrough, historically part of the North Riding of Yorkshire. (population nearly 5,000) Its origins can be traced back to before the Domesday Book of 1086. The village was named “Thorpe”, or “Torp” described as a thriving settlement, consisting of an estimated 1,080 acres of land. Towards the end of the 12th century a group of Cistercians nuns, allegedly evicted from nearby Hutton Lowcross for rowdy behaviour (naughty nuns!!!), were relocated to Thorpe, given land which belonged to Whitby Abbey, where they built a priory and a mill. The nuns only stayed at Thorpe a few years, but their short stay resulted in Thorpe being renamed Nunthorpe.

Nunthorpe Athletic formed in 1970 and joined the Teesside League. The club also played in the early stages of the FA Vase between 1979 and 1986.
Teesside League winners in 1989-90
MacMillan Bowl winners 5 times in 1974, 1984, 1990, 1999 and 2009.

As well as the senior team in the North Riding Premier Division, the club has junior teams at all age levels and a girls team playing at the Rec. The County FA awarded Nunthorpe Athletic Junior FC the prestigious FA Charter Standard Community award for grassroots football in 2011.
Nunthorpe & Marton Recreation Club
Guisborough Road,

North Riding Premier Division grounds 5/13

A leisurely 42 mile drive down the A19 and A174, arriving as the players were just emerging from the changing rooms for kick off.
Nunthorpe Athletic utilise 5 pitches at their ground on Guisborough Road, with the senior team using the central pitch adjacent to the tennis courts. The car park, social club and pavilion are at the entrance with the pitches at the side in view of the Cleveland Hills.

Nunthorpe Athletic(13th) v Guisborough Town(11th)
North Riding Premier Division Matchday 14-16
2pm ko
Nunthorpe stay anchored at the foot of the Premier Division table after a home defeat to Guisborough United. The visitors took the lead on 13 minutes when Lewis Minter poked home from a right wing corner, before doubling their advantage through Paul Roddam twelve minutes later. Nunthorpe got themselves back in the game from the restart with a fine chip over the ‘keeper from Scott Wood, but the comeback was denied when Liam Fox made it 3-1 on 52 minutes.
The hosts were awarded a penalty with fifteen minutes remaining after a clear handball in the box, but Tom Atkinson was denied by Sowerby in the United goal who pushed the ball onto the crossbar before it was scrambled away to safety.
With just over ten minutes remaining Guisborough wrapped up the points with the goal of the game, as Morgan Corner curled a fine effort from 20 yards into the far corner of the net to make it 4-1.

Matchday Stats
NAFC 1(Webb 46)
GTFC 4(Minter 13 Roddam 25 Fox 52 Corner 77)
Entertainment 7/10
Top Bloke - Morgan Corner(Guisborough United)

✓596 Mill Farm

AFC Fylde 0-1 Leyton Orient
National League 
Saturday 17th February 2018
 I visited AFC Fylde in March 2016 during the club’s final season at Kellamergh Park. The Coasters finished third in National League North in 2015-16, losing out to North Ferriby United in the play-off final, however the ambitious club took a step nearer the Football League by comfortably winning the league title last season.
You can read about my visit to their old ground, including a potted history of the club here.
Mill Farm

The ground is dominated by the 2,000 capacity main stand, which has seating at the front of a large corporate area. The stand has the club name on its facade with a wall clock in the middle (which by my reckoning was 3 minutes slow) with the team dugouts within the seats. There is covered terracing opposite with runs pitch length, with further cover behind one of the goals which is giving up to away supporters. At the turnstile entrance there is open hard standing behind the goal.

Capacity 6,000
Record attendance 3,858 v Chorley National League North, 26th 2016.  December 2016
National League grounds visited 23/24
AFC Fylde(7th) v Leyton Orient(17th)
National League matchday 34-33
Kick off : 3pm

The Coasters have jumped into the play-off picture after a fabulous run of form, picking up 23 points over the last 10 games in the National League. On the other hand Orient are struggling just above the relegation zone, so a much needed three points for the O’s, courtesy of a Macauley Bonne penalty just before the break. Bonne netted the spot-kick winner after Dan Holman was fouled in the box by Simon Grand.
Danny Rowe and Henry Jones went close for Fylde in the second half but the visitors defended well and deserved their win to ease their relegation fears.

Matchday Stats
LOFC 1(Bonne 42pen)
Entertainment 6/10
Top Bloke - James Brophy (Leyton Orient)

Admission £13 (standing)
Programme:sold out by 2.15 (good job I'm not a sad paper chaser)
Pin badge £3
Coffee £1.50 (yuck!)
I had this fixture picked out earlier in the season. I usually tick off the Non-League elite grounds as a Gateshead supporter, but I missed out on the Heed’s visit in October as I was away in Krakow at the time. The breadknife and I originally intended to stay in Blackpool for the night, but I decided to switch to Preston instead, as it’s closer to Wesham with plenty of decent boozers to explore for one of our mega pub crawls.
We arrived at Preston station at 11.15am, ticked off a few pubs before checking into our digs for the night. I caught the 1407 train for the short journey to Kirkham & Wesham and back in good time for our night out. We managed to have a drink in 15 pubs, including 6 GBG pubs, 2 ‘Spoons and plenty of good boozers in between, so overall an ace weekend.

Picture courtesy of John McClure