Saturday, 10 November 2018

ROYSTON TOWN (Garden Walk)


As I was on my way south to that there London for a Sunday trip to The Bridge, I was looking for something suitable en-route for my Saturday football fix.

I will be absolutely honest and say my first choice was the Isthmian League game between Corinthian- Casuals and Tonbridge Angels but this game was postponed as the former were knocked out of FA Trophy, whilst the latter went through.

FA Trophy? My attention was now drawn to this competition and the all Southern League tie between Royston Town and Thame United caught my eye, so it was to Hertfordshire I headed.

The journey down took longer than expected so there was just about time for a brief walk up the High Street and a quick drink in the local 'spoons before making the short walk to the ground.

Royston Town are the second oldest club in the county (after Hitchin Town) having been founded in 1875. The club have played their home games at Garden Walk since 1932. The ground is hemmed in with houses surrounding the ground on three sides and a cemetery on the other.

The club have made good use of the available space and the ground has rural feel to it. There is a large seated stand alongside one side of the pitch and a wooden 'decking' covered stand in one corner of the ground. There are two of the ubiquitous arena stands, one in the other corner and one behind the goal. There is also an overhang from the clubhouse, where the majority of home fans stood during the game.

Royston Town are currently members of the Southern League Premier Division Central, which is the highest level the club has played at in its history. The club gained promotion to the Southern League (as Champions) in 2012 after nearly 20 years in the Spartan South Midlands League. They won the first division title in 2017 to gain promotion to step 3 of the pyramid. The club are currently in third place in the table and their forthcoming clash against league leaders Kettering Town was the talk of the terrace.

It was cool and overcast as I arrived at the ground but by the time the game kicked off the weather was appalling. It absolutely bucketed down but the conditions made the pitch slick and wet, which always makes for an entertaining game in my humble opinion. Thame opened the scoring after 12 minutes when a fine move and cross was finished off by Lynton Goss.

Thame had a glorious chance to double their lead after 15 minutes when Liam Tack broke clear with only the keeper to beat but his attempted chip was easily gathered by Joe Welch in the Royston goal. Almost straight away The Crows went up the other end and former Leyton Orient striker David Mooney fired home to level things up.

Royston were now moving the ball around well and before half time some good passing football created the openings for Mooney to complete his hat-trick (35 & 41).

Thame started the second half brightly but were soon 4-1 down after 55 minutes when Jamie Essex deflected the ball into his own net.

Royston squandered chances to further extend their lead but did eventually score a fifth, and arguably the goal of the game, when Spyros Mentis (79) turned and volleyed the ball into the top corner from the corner of the box. Game over?

Well not quite. In the last 10 minutes, seemingly with nothing to lose, Thame went for it and got a goal back through Tack after 81 minutes. They also hit the post and missed two great chances as the ball pinged around the box. The Royston defenders were throwing their bodies on the line to block the shots.

In the end though it was Royston who deservedly went through to the third round and they will now have another home tie, this time against Needham Market.

Saturday, 27 October 2018



After visiting Cheadle Heath Nomads last weekend, this was my second successive weekend in Greater Manchester. I was meeting up with a friend from Hamburg so needed somewhere close to the city centre and a visit to another North West Counties League newcomer, Wythenshawe Amateurs, was the order of the day.

It was an early start for a liquid brunch in Piccadilly before boarding a tram from Market Street to Benchill (Gately is the nearest train station but Northern rail were on strike today) and from there it was a 10 minute walk to Hollyhedge Park.

Founded in 1949, Wythenshawe played in various leagues before becoming stalwarts of the Manchester League after joining in 1972. They won the league 3 times and been runners up on 10 occasions and, for good measure, also won the Manchester League cup 7 times.

The club led a nomadic existence with nowhere permanent to call home until 2017 when the club set up base at Hollyhedge Park in Sharston. Work began in 2016 on transforming a corner of the park into a purpose built ground after a £382,317 grant from the Premier League and FA helped towards the £700,000 costs.

The ground now has a clubhouse and a covered stand, with the groundwork being laid for a seated stand behind the goal in the near future. Floodlights are now erected and will be switched on next Tuesday evening. Manchester United legend Bryan Robson officially the ground in May this year and the new facility allowed Wythenshawe to accept promotion to the North West Counties League as part of the restructuring to the pyramid.

Most importantly though the pasties served at the ground were delicious, which is obviously a priority when it comes to football grounds!

There was an excellent crowd of 152 present and they were treated to an absolute humdinger of a game as visitors Stone Old Alleynians came from 2-0 and 3-1 down to grab a draw.

Wythenshaw Amateurs went two goals up thanks to David Wright (17) and Dominic Lillie (23) before Samuel Wilson (40) halved the deficit for Stone just before half time.

The Ammies restored their two goal advantage soon after the break when Wright (53) tapped home his second goal. Jack Tomlinson (59) made it 3-2 before Michael Williams (85) scored a late penalty for the visitors to grab a draw.

In the last moments of the game either team could have grabbed a winner but I thought neither side deserved to be losers today. A fabulous advert for the North West Counties League football.

At the end of the game it was a quick dash back to Benchill station to catch the 1704 tram and I was back in a popular city centre drinking establishment with a pint in my hand before 6pm. Another great day out! 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

CHEADLE HEATH NOMADS (The Heath, Norbreck Avenue)


Today was the first of two successive Saturday evenings out in Manchester so I had to find something close to the city centre in order to be back in town for 7pm. A visit to League newcomers Cheadle Heath Nomads fitted the bill perfectly.

The restructuring of the pyramid last summer led to another division in the North West Counties League being created with the single division One being expanded to two divisions, a north and south. This meant for me nine brand new grounds (of the 17 new clubs this season) to visit in a league I had previously completed. Fantastic!

So, after the restructuring, Cheadle Heath Nomads took the opportunity of promotion from the Cheshire League to join the first division south.

The club was originally formed in 1919 and played amateur football in the Lancashire and Cheshire League until 1994 when they joined the Mid-Cheshire League.

Meanwhile Linotype FC, from Timperley, were founded in 1949 and played in the Mid-Cheshire League throughout their existence.

In 2004 off the field circumstances of both clubs led to the Nomads merging with Linotype and forming Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads FC . This club played in the Cheshire League up until May 2017, and were champions as recently as 2015.

After the merger the club continued to play at The Heath on Norbreck Avenue, which has been home since the original Cheadle Heath set up base there in 1921. The ground is currently known as the ProSeal Stadium for sponsorship purposes.

Recent work on the ground has brought it up to the required standard for Step 6 football. There is hard standing on three sides and a new seated stand has been added on one side of the pitch. Floodlights have been installed on they were debuted last Tuesday when The Nomads beat Wythenshawe Town 2-0.

At the beginning of this season the club reverted back to the original name of Cheadle Heath Nomads ahead of celebrating it's centenary in 2019.

Cheadle Heath have made a good start to their debut campaign at this level and are currently in the top five of the Division One South table, however today was all about the League Cup and they were facing premier division opponents from Merseyside in the form of Litherland REMYCA.

George Donnelly (15 mins) gave Litherland the lead before Isaac Graham (21) levelled for Cheadle Heath Nomads (pictured below) to make it all square at the interval.

The home side had the better of the play in the second half and took the lead through Richard Tindall (69) before Tindall netted his second goal after 79 minutes to wrap up the tie for Cheadle. The Nomads will now travel to another league newcomer Rylands in the next round.

An excellent afternoon's football and a visit to Cheadle Heath Nomads is very much recommended.

Pie and Peas? Get in there!!

The ground is on the flight path into Manchester Airport.
Based on my rudimentary timings a plane flies over around every 90 seconds.
Definitely a ground for all you plane-spotters out there!