Saturday 18 May 2024

BORTH UNITED (Uppingham Playing Fields)

ATTENDANCE: 47 (h/c)

My season of groundhopping ended, domestically anyway, with a trip to the seaside to watch the 2023/24 Aberystwyth League champions Bont comprehensively beat Borth to wrap up their season in style.

It finished with the visitors scoring eight but, after coming through the opening 15 minutes when Borth were well on top, they could've scored double that. It was only 1-2 at the break though but the game ran away from the homesters after a four goal blitz just after half time, The Crows heads and legs clearly going.

Borth United - Ross Diamond (44)
Bont FC - Keiran Duggan (15) William Evans (22, 56) Jordan Perry (51, 57, 79) David Evans (54) Richard Jones (67)

Founded in 1890, Borth have spent the majority of their history in local leagues though, after winning the Aberystwyth League in 2014 they took promotion to the Mid-Wales League Division Two. In 2017 they reached the third tier of Welsh football but that sojourn only lasted one season as the club finished bottom of Division One. The club returned to the Aberystwyth League in 2020.

This has been a difficult season for Borth as their ground was flooded last October and this was only the second time they had played at home in 2024. Hopefully brighter days are to come for The Crows next season.

Saturday 4 May 2024



After a Friday night in Luton (watching Everton draw 1-1 with The Hatters) 
I headed across the Pennines to the village of Dodworth, which is approximately 2.5 miles from Barnsley.

This is a ground that has been on my radar since the covid lockdown restrictions forced groundhoppers like myself to look at grounds at step 7 and below. There are definitely some crackers at that level.

Dodworth is a former coal mining village and, like most of the old mining communities in these parts, the welfare ground boast excellent facilities, the football ground being no exception, boasting a large covered enclosure. After 135 years, mining ceased in October 1985, as part of the pit closure policy of the Thatcher government.

The game had something riding on it as the opponents, North Gawber Colliery, needed a win to help in their bid to avoid the drop but that always seemed unlikely as Dodworth dominated proceedings from the off. It was a comfortable victory for the homesters thanks to a hat-trick from Matthew Jacobs.

Saturday 20 April 2024

NEILSTON FC (Brig O'Lea Stadium)


This weekend I headed north for another fix of Scottish football. On a glorious sunny afternoon in Scotland I found myself in Renfrewshire, in the village of Neilston.

Like most villages in the area, Neilston grew with the industrial revolution and the building of cotton mills but as industry died out over the decades, the village morphed into a commuter village given it's proximity to both Glasgow and Paisley.

The football club was formed in 1945, after the demise of Neilston Victoria, adopting the name Neilston Juniors Football Club (the 'Juniors' being dropped in 2020 when the club left junior football to join the newly formed West of Scotland League).

The club play at Brig O'Lea, a ground that will be celebrating it's 125th anniversary in 2024. Despite being battered by the wet weather this season the pitch was in perfect condition, the club chairman proudly telling me that it is very rare games are called off due to wet weather. In fact he said, snow is usually the reason for call offs given the club's location in the Levern Valley.

The pitch is a far cry from the supposed origins of the clubs nickname 'The Farmers Boys' which was largely due to the state of the pitch back in the day, along with the style of football adopted by the team. The term was reclaimed by the club over time and is now used most positively these days.

There is a large enclosure on one side of the pitch and the changing rooms and clubhouse on the other side. There are plans in place to upgrade the facilities at the club, which should be completed in the near future.

On the pitch, this season has been one of struggle for Neilston and the club are on the brink of relegation to Division Two of the West of Scotland League and this defeat this afternoon means they only now have a mathematical, rather than a realistic, chance of avoiding the drop.

Ashfield dominated the game from off and it was no surprise when they took the lead early on, Craig Quinn curling an effort into the top corner. Despite all the possession and numerous chances created, Ashfield couldn't add to their tally and it remained 1-0 at the break. A decent scoreline for Neilston in the circumstances.

The second Ashfield goal finally arrived around the hour mark, Bobby Barr converting from the penalty spot. Game over? Well not quite. Del McNab headed home for The Farmers Boys to half the deficit and indeed, in the last 15 minutes of the game Neilston should have come away with a point at the very least, but they squandered their opportunities for snatching that equaliser which, I was told, has been the story of Neilston's season.

A great afternoon at a more than welcoming club. I would impore anyone to put a visit to the Brig O'Lea on your "must do" list.

Monday 1 April 2024

HONITON TOWN (Mountbatten Park)


It's funny how things work out...

Along with many other like minded football fans, I headed to the South West of England for the South West Peninsula League 'groundhop' which was returning after a six year hiatus. Seven games were scheduled over three days, starting in Honiton on Maundy Thursday but, as I arrived in the town and parked up, which was just 35 minutes before kick off, I recieved a message off a mate to say the game had just been called off. I can't repeat what I shouted out!

Despite the herculean effort of the groundstaff and volunteers, the referee deemed a small patch of the pitch in front of the stand unplayable. The managers and players of both teams were happy to give it a go, the club were obviously desperate for the game to go ahead, as it would have been a huge payday for them, but the officials were unmoved. Incredibly sad for everyone concerned.

The rain continued to fall over the weekend and it was lucky that all the other scheduled 'hop' games went ahead, some on pitches in a similar condition to Honiton, but moving onto Easter Monday the rain was still falling and still playing havoc with matches. Once again there were lots of postponements but one club tweeted that it was definitely 'game on' and that was Honiton Town, joking that it was all systems go after the pitch had had a "nice rest on Thursday". So off I headed back down the A30 to Mountbatten Park. As I said, it's funny how things work out.

Honiton Town were founded in 1950 and were members of the Devon and Exeter League until 2017 when they joined the South West Peninsula League. Last season (2022/23) was their highest ever league finish, 13th in the East Division.

Mountbatten Park is on the edge of the town and is shared with the cricket club, so there is hard standing down two sides of the pitch along with a small covered stand and a larger seated stand.

The football club are nicknamed 'The Hippos'. Why the Hippos I hear you cry? Well, about 100,000 years ago, a wide range of species lived in South Devon and the water-rich, boggy area around Honiton was particularly attractive to hippos, who migrated from Southern Europe towards England. When the construction of the A30 road began, fossils of hippo bones were discovered and are on display in the local museum.

On the subject of water-rich, boggy areas, the playing pitch was no different to Thursday, with that troublesome patch in front of the stand still very soft. This time though the game kicked off and was played to a finish. Hooray!

In an entertaining game, Jordan Harris gave Honiton the lead in the 20th minute before Torridgeside equalised in the 39th minute George King firing home a free kick. The visitors took the lead in the 57th minute through Shaun Copp and looked set for the three points until Lewis Couch bagged an equaliser for Honiton, deep into stoppage time. That sent the Hippo Ultras into delirium - cue the pyro!

That concluded a wonderful, if wet, weekend in the South West. Looking forward to Easter 2025 already.

⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️

For the record, the 2024 South West Peninsula League Easter Groundhop consisted of the following matches...

11:30 - 29/03/24 - Vicarage Field 
Torrington 1-0 Crediton United
Attendance: 422

15:00 - 29/03/2024 - Donnacroft 
Torridgeside 0-3 Okehampton Argyle
Attendance: 451

19:00 - 29/03/2024 - Upcott Field
Holsworthy 0-0 Bude Town
Attendance: 906

11:30 - 30/03/2024 - Lux Park
Liskeard Athletic 2-0 Dobwalls
Attendance: 508

15:00 - 30/03/2024 - Haye Road
Elburton Villa 1-2 Bovey Tracey
Attendance: 311

18:30 - 30/03/2024 - Erme Valley Playing Fields
Ivybridge Town 6-0 Dartmouth
Attendance: 388