My Matchday - 249 Frenchfield Park

Penrith 0v0 Spennymoor Town
Northern League Division One
Wednesday 14th April 2010
“Oh to be in England now that April’s there” is a famous opening line of Victorian poetic gubbins by Browning, or is it Tennyson? (I better google it*) Spring time means we’re moving towards the finale of the season when the pots and medals are handed out, although there’s a club close to my heart who managed to achieve their goal with still half a dozen games remaining.
Anyway the reason behind this pretentious opening link is my matchday calendar has reached the month of April and the shocking revelation is that this is my first Northern League fixture of the season. However in my defence, and just in case club secretary Mr Haworth happens to be reading this and requests the acquiesce of my membership of ‘The Northern League Club’ I have attended games involving Dunston, Whitley Bay and Shildon in this seasons in FA Vase. (* Aye. It’s Robert Browning…Eddy)

Since my previous visit to Penrith at Southend Road in November 2007, the Blues went on to win Division Two that season(as I predicted at the time) and merged with Northern Alliance club Penrith United, reverting to their original name of plain old Penrith AFC. The team went on to finish 7th in Division One last season and reached the finals of both the League and Cumberland Cups.
Last seasons league title was won in Penrith when Newcastle Benfield clinched the championship with a late winner. As football has a habit of regurgitate itself it was Spennymoor Town who headed west to Cumbria needing three more points to become this seasons champions. However it wasn’t to be, as Penrith held the runaways leaders to a feisty draw after spending nearly the whole of the second half with ten men.

Played on a bobbley pitch the game got off to a poor start, Michael Rae came closest to breaking the deadlock, his effort hitting the crossbar in the 35th minute the only decent chance in an uneventful first half.
Minutes after the restart Penrith’s big centre half Robertson was shown the red card, the linesman on the far side saw something that no one else did, drawing the referees attention and grassing up the big lad for apparently picking on Spenny’s Dixon as the players lined up in the penalty area awaiting a free kick.
The leaders should have gone on and took the required three points, Graydon twice went close with free kicks while Cogdon produced a good save from the keeper. As the game progressed Penrith grew with confidence and could have won the game themselves with their best effort coming from Torres look-a-likey Michael Brown.
In stoppage time Rea had a glorious chance to clinch it, but blasted his close range effort over the bar. His reaction to missing such a glorious chance was to push a Penrith player flat on his back in a rage of frustration. It looked like the player had took the piss out of him for missing a sitter and he reacted like a kid in a schoolyard kick about.
Penrith were delighted to hold the champions elect to a draw, while Spenny still have four games and a big lead at the top to be confirmed as Northern League champions.

Due to the current financial climate the Frenchfield project was completed later than expected but Penrith finally took possession of the new premises prior to the start of the season, kicking off with a friendly with Annan Athletic on the 3rd August.
The ground is situated on the edge of the town by the A66, the complex is huge, 30 acres including seven full size pitches, when I arrived the place was a hive of activity with plenty of football taking place.
Frenchfield Park is found in the far corner of the complex. An attractive looking main stand caters for all amenities. The clubhouse is found at the top of the stand which is a like an executive suite at a big stadium, having a glass front which looks out onto the pitch with a separate area cordoned off for club officials and hospitality.
The changing rooms are underneath, both sets of players facilities are at opposite sides of the stand with the refreshment kiosk opposite the turnstile block.
The stand has a large cantilever roof with nine rows of blue seats with a capacity of around 250. The exterior of the stand is decked with wooden cladding which blends in with the grounds perimeter fence.
At the far side there’s a three stepped standing shelter named ‘The Walter Brogden Stand’ named after the life long fan and club secretary. The rest of the ground is made up of large tarmaced standing with a pair of Perspex dugouts in front of the stand.
It’s obvious that Frenchfield Park lacks the character of the previous home of 106 years, but the ground has been well designed and isn’t a quick knock-up-job as you sometimes get with new non-league grounds. The ground’s tranquil setting with the surrounding farmland and the views of the snow covered hills at Hartside Moor make Frenchfields an inimitable new addition to the Northern League and one that, in time, will become a favourable destination amongst sNL groundhoppers.

Matchday stats
Admission £5

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