My Matchday - 284 Gillford Park Stadium

Gillford Park 0v2 Marske United
Northern League Division Tw0
Wednesday 27th April 2011
I took a leisurely midweek drive along the A69 to one of the two Cumbrian based Northern League grounds that I still needed to tick off.
Gillford Park FC are based in the southern part of Carlisle, formed in 2004 by Mike Linden and Geoff Andrews, managers of a local amateur team, along with former League player Steven Skinner.
The club were accepted into the Northern Alliance Division Two for the 2005/06 season, playing on a shared pitch with Sunday League team Carlisle Spartans. The club won promotion in their first season, finishing runner-up to Whitley Bay ’A’ with a side comprising of locally based players from the Carlisle area.

The following season the team moved across from the second pitch to the main stadium at Gillford Park. The ground is found before reaching the railway bridge on Pettersill Bank Road, access is via a long concrete track off the main road which leads to the Railway Club and stadium.
The ground has a capacity of 4,000 made up of two seated stands. The Railway End Stand is behind the goal next to the turnstiles and has a cantilever roof with a mixture of red, white and blue flip seats. The stand also has a refreshment bar, changing rooms and a window view at the top which houses the PA system and offices.
The stand behind the team dugouts sits on the half way line, having a block of red seats with a light blue con-iron frame and 6 white supporting pillars. The terrace at the opposite side is fully covered and behind the far goal there's no hardstanding with insuficent room for spectators, so isn't used.
The club made rapid progress, winning the Northern Alliance Combination Cup in 2007 and two further promotions in three seasons brought Northern League football to the city of Carlisle for the first time. Floodlights were erected in the summer of 2009, bringing the ground up to Northern League standard.

Gillford Park have had a difficult season to say the least, locked out of their home for the majority of the season by landlords the Carlisle & District Railway Club after signing a 25 year lease just a few years ago. Thanks to the co-operation of their fellow Northern League clubs they had to reverse all their fixtures, playing all matches away until finding refuge in Whitehaven, at the Copeland Stadium in January.
The Carlisle County Court granted an interim injunction to allow the club the use the ground and facilities, so they finally played their first “home” fixture of the season on March 5th against Crook Town. Since then they’ve had to squeeze in 15 of their remaining 17 sNL Division Two fixtures at home, this game against Marske United being their penultimate match of a hectic finale to the season.
The disagreement with the proprietor seems to have extended into the car park. I arrived at the ground at 7pm where two ladies standing outside the Railway Club politely asked me to park further down away from the social club. I drove a bit further before being stopped by a volunteer from the football club who ushered me inside the stadium itself asking me to park behind the stand, before he cursed the annoying neighbours.

Gillford Park’s opponents Marske United went into this game knowing a win would clinch the third promotion slot along with Newton Aycliffe and Guisborough Town.
The first half produced very little, Marske United played like a team in a hurry, trying to get the required victory as quickly as possible and came close to breaking the deadlock through Karl Charlton, but his effort agonisingly hit the foot of the post.
The Seasiders were more patient in the second half, taking the lead on 55 minutes when Charlton pounced on a loose ball to sweep home from the edge of the box and with a quarter of an hour remaining Chris McGill got on the end of a right wing cross, to produce a sweet volley that clinched victory and sNL Division One football next season.

So after originally finishing the Northern League clubs 3 years ago, due to promotion and relocations I still have one ground left to again complete the set - much further west through Cumbria to Whitehaven. However I may have to do Gillford Park again if the dispute with the stadium landlords isn’t resolved. The football club are “very confident” that Gillford will be at the Railway Club next season, but after that who knows, I wish “Carlisle’s Non-League Team” the best of luck in their efforts in finding stability, be it at their current home or elsewhere in the town.

Matchday stats
GPFC 0 MUFC 2(Charlton 55,McGill 76)
Admission £4

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