My Grounds

Friday, 20 April 2018

Eynesbury Rovers - Alfred Hall Memorial Ground

Eynesbury Rovers FC
Alfred Hall Memorial Ground
Hall Road
St Neots
PE19 3SF

Ground: 45
Date: 19th April 2018
Eynesbury Rovers 0-0 Yaxley
United Counties League Premier Division

Eynesbury Rovers FC - History

Eynesbury Rovers were founded in 1897, initially joining the Biggleswade & District League before switching to the St Neots Junior League. They won this league in 1911, joining the Bedford & District League at some point afterwards. The club won Division 2 of this league on three occasions (1926/27, 1930/31 and 1931/32) before joining Division 2 of the South Midlands League in 1934.

The club finished as runners-up in their first season in Division 2 to earn promotion to Division 1, where they remained until the outbreak of World War 2. After the war, the club transferred to the United Counties League, before transferring to the Eastern Counties League in 1952. Near the end of the decade, financial problems forced the club to revert to amateur status, and this was followed by six seasons of struggle, starting in the 1957/58 season and continuing until the 1962/63 season.

After finishing bottom of the league in 1963, the club returned to the United Counties League. However, this did little to improve the club's fortunes, with the club finishing in the bottom two in five of the next eight seasons. This led to relegation to Division 2 in 1971/72, which was then renamed Division 1 before the club won it in 1977 to return to the Premier Division.

The club remained in the Premier Division for almost 25 years, but after finishing bottom in the 2000/01 season, they were relegated back to Division 1. They then remained in Division 1 until the 2013/14 season, when a second-place finish was enough to earn promotion back to the Premier Division. They have remained in the Premier Division ever since, recording a highest finish of 5th last season and looking likely to finish 6th this season.

In the FA Cup, the club progressed as far as the 4th Qualifying Round in the 1954/55 season, beating Wolverton Town & BR and Biggleswade District before losing to Cambridge United. As for the FA Vase, the club's best run saw them reach the 3rd Round in the 1994/95 season, beating Holbeach United, Hemel Hempstead and Spalding United before losing to Halstead Town. 

My Visit

After this game was originally postponed on Easter Monday, I was hoping that it or the Kirby Muxloe game would be rearranged on a reasonable date (i.e. one before going back to University) and, fortunately for me, this one was quickly announced as rearranged for the 19th. So I asked my dad a week or so ago if we could go and he assented.

I got picked up just before 6:30pm last night, having just finished dinner, and after an easy drive down the A1 we arrived at the ground just after 7pm, eventually finding a place to park nearby (the car park was very small and already full when we arrived, so we had to park in the residential street leading to the ground). 

We each paid £5 for admission, and I paid £1 for a programme, which turned out to be a re-issue from the games between the two sides that didn't go ahead over the Easter period (the cup tie we had to pull out of at the end of March and the Easter Monday game). I then did my usual circuit of photos to kill some time before kick-off, but even once I was done there was still 25 minutes or so until kick-off, so we went to stand in front of the main stand as we waited for kick-off.

Here's my heavily-biased match report on what was a dismal game, in which we (Yaxley) were stifled by a frustratingly-resilient Eynesbury side:

We could have been 2-0 down in 20 minutes if not for goalkeeper Ollie Sutton making two excellent saves, as we made an utterly terrible start to the game and just generally looked really nervous. Eynesbury got in our faces from the off and we didn't seem ready for that at all. We slowly grew into the game as the half progressed, having a goal disallowed for offside two minutes before half-time and creating a few other good chances as well.

The second half saw us make a much better start as we began to push Eynesbury further and further back, with it becoming more and more apparent as the half progressed that they did not have any intention whatsoever of trying to win the game. The progression of the half - and the steady increase in chances created by Dan Cotton, Matt Sparrow and Tom Waumsley - also saw Eynesbury resort to more and more desperate measures to stop us, resorting to constant manhandling and shirt-pulling to hinder our attacking efforts wherever possible. This eventually led to former Yaxley player Michael Mackrell elbowing Sparrow, with the referee - who had long since lost control of the game, if he ever had it to begin with that is - only opting to give him a yellow, before allowing him to get away with a blatant shove off the ball mere minutes later. He did eventually receive his second yellow, but by the time he did the game was essentially over, so it didn't matter in the slightest.

So, there you have it. It was a terrible match and a less-than-ideal result for us in our promotion push, and much of the circa-60 crowd went home disappointed and frustrated with the result (it seemed like at least half the crowd, if not more, were backing Yaxley last night). Even so, it still remains in our hands to continue our promotion push, and all we can do is attempt to bounce back tomorrow at home against St. Andrews.

Despite the result, this was still a decent groundhop: doing a midweek, evening game for once made for a nice change of pace (as did the hot, sunny weather, which I'm hoping sticks around for the rest of the season now) and the ground was very good as well.

I've got two more groundhops planned for this season: the first will be next Saturday, and I'll be choosing one of Billericay Town, Eastbourne Town, Lewes and Marlow as my destination, depending on whether Matt is available or not and how well the trains are running; then, I'll finish the season with a Yaxley cup final for the second season running, with us once again in the UCL Knockout Cup Final, this time against Leicester Nirvana at Raunds Town.

The Ground

Alfred Hall Memorial Ground is one of the better Step 5 grounds I've visited so far, with various areas of cover on three sides of the ground: on the near side is an impressive main stand with a seating capacity of around 200, and next to this is an area of covered standing in front of the clubhouse, which likely provides cover for a further 300 or so people; on the dugout side of the ground is a smaller area of covered standing, which could probably hold 50-100 people; behind the near goal, an imposing new stand is currently in the process of being built, although at this stage it is mostly scaffolding with around 200 or so seats inside.

The rest of the ground is open hard standing, with some work also seeming to be about to get underway behind the far goal, as the railing at this end has been replaced by temporary fencing and seemed to be intended to be closed off, although that didn't stop a few people standing behind the far goal in the second half.

The record attendance at the ground was 5,000 for a friendly match against Fulham in 1955, a game which Sir Stanley Matthews played in for the home side.

Overall, the ground is more than good enough for Step 5 and would be an excellent addition at Step 4 as well, should the club ever find themselves at that level in the future; they could definitely do with a bigger car park if that does happen, though.


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Chatteris Town - West Street

Chatteris Town FC
West Street
PE16 6HW
Ground: 44
Date: 14th April 2018
Chatteris Town 2-4 Hemingfords United
Cambridgeshire County League Premier Division

Chatteris Town FC - History

Chatteris Town were founded in 1920 as Chatteris Town Juniors, changing to the current name the following year. They initially joined the Isle of Ely League, quickly rising through its divisions and winning the title in 1923, before joining Division 2 of the Cambridgeshire County League in 1924. They continued to steadily rise through the divisions before transferring to the Peterborough & District League after winning the Cambridgeshire County League at the end of the 1931/32 season.

In 1935, the club was hit by financial problems and forced to withdraw from the league. However, they reformed in 1936 as a junior team, joining and winning Division 1B of the Cambridgeshire League at the first attempt. After the war, the club returned to the Peterborough & District League, winning a hat-trick of titles from 1964 to 1966. The third of these title wins was enough for the club to be promoted to the Eastern Counties League.

The club remained in the Eastern Counties League for the rest of the century, being placed in its Premier Division when Division 1 was created for the start of the 1988/89 season. This was the beginning of the club's difficulties, with two bottom-placed finishes in the first three seasons of the Premier Division (on both occasions they were reprieved due to clubs being promoted to the Southern League or kicked out of Division 1 for not meeting the ground grading criteria). However, when they finished bottom again at the end of the 1994/95 season, there was no reprieve and they were relegated to Division 1.

The club spent the next six seasons in Division 1, recording their highest finish of 5th at the end of the 2000/01 season. Despite this, the club withdrew from the league at the end of the season and dropped back into the Peterborough & District League, before transferring to Senior Division B of the Cambridgeshire County League in 2008. 

They finished 3rd in this league in their first season to earn promotion, and then won Senior Division A the following season to earn promotion to the Premier Division. Relegation back to Senior Division A came at the end of the 2012/13 season, but the club returned to the Premier Division at the end of the 2015/16 season. They have remained in the Premier Division ever since, but are currently looking on course to suffer relegation back to Senior Division A at the end of the season.

In the FA Cup - a competition which the club have not competed in since the 1994/95 season - Chatteris have progressed as far as the 3rd Qualifying Round on two occasions: in the 1946/47 season, they received a bye to the 2nd Qualifying Round, where they beat Newmarket Town before losing to Cambridge Town; in the 1972/73 season, they beat Gorleston and Wisbech Town before losing to Ely City in a replay. As for the FA Vase - which the club last competed in back in the 2000/01 season - Chatteris progressed as far as the 2nd Round in the 1993/94 season, beating Stamford and Armitage '90 before losing to Bridgnorth Town.

My Visit

After the postponements over the Easter Weekend, I had only done one of three groundhops that I had hoped to do before heading back to University for the final month of my first year. As such, I needed to fit in two games as soon as possible. However, because I was at home and did not need to worry about many of the expenses I have at University, I had been slightly less careful with my spending than normal and was very low on money as a result.

Because of this, it became necessary for me to look at Step 7 and below for the second of the three groundhops I wanted to do while at home. Initially, I was hoping that Warboys Town would be at home, as it's one of the more local Step 7 options that is more than just a pitch. However, a quick look at the fixture list after the Easter Monday visit to Grantham showed that their last home game of the season was the 7th of April, meaning that I had to rule that one out.

I started to think about other grounds in the local area that could fit the bill and, upon doing so, I remember that Chatteris have a very nice ground for Step 7 and, upon looking at their fixture list on NonLeagueMatters, I found that they were at home, which was highly convenient for me. 

Of course, after asking for and receiving approval of the plan from my mum, it then became a matter of hoping that the weather improved and that the game actually went ahead. Fortunately for me, the weather had been fairly cooperative for once, with it being sunny for what felt like (and probably was) the first time in months yesterday.

With no worries about a postponement, we set off just after 1pm (with the game being a 2pm kick-off, this was an ideal time to leave), using the same back-roads we had used when heading to Ely City's ground around this time last year and arriving at the ground at around 1:35pm. I headed in through the gate and paid £2 for admission before doing the usual circuit of photos, settling next to the main stand as kick-off approached. Shortly after kick-off, I was pleasantly surprised to see Yaxley full-back/winger Jack Saunders in attendance as well, as part of an impressive 90-plus crowd.

Looking at the table and records of each side, I was expecting a scrappy, low-quality contest with only a goal or two in it, while at the same time I was hoping for an exciting match despite those concerns.

Chatteris Town team sheet
Here's my report on a match which, for once, massively surpassed my expectations and proved to be an entertaining contest between two teams who just wanted to get on with the game and get the win:

The early stages of the game were largely what I was expecting, with both sides trying to gain a foothold in the match but neither looking particularly likely to actually produce anything; everyone on both sides was pressing hard and giving no one any room to really produce anything. However, this changed when Hemingfords scored their first after 14 minutes (slightly against the run of play at that point, I thought, as Chatteris had just produced a couple of good chances at this point), Jack Jefferson getting a shot away from the edge of the box to score. Chatteris were quick to respond though, Matt Harris-Hercules producing an equaliser four minutes later with a driven shot from distance (a goal which I actually missed due to doing an initial headcount, but fortunately the Chatteris Twitter promptly posted the details of the goal).

At this point - and for most of the match, in all honesty - there wasn't much of a pattern to the play, with both teams seeming to largely forego tactics in favour of simply trying to get the ball forward and into the net. This meant that there wasn't much in the way of nuanced play (to the point where it's proven quite difficult to write a lengthy report on this game), but the simplicity was definitely refreshing, even if there were plenty of mistakes from both sides because of it (although that is to be expected considering where these teams are in the league). In any event, the half continued as it was for a while - both teams pushing forwards and creating chances before being pushed back again - until a third goal came on 35 minutes in bizarre fashion: Chatteris had played the ball forwards and into the box and it seemed to be heading towards the Hemingfords goalkeeper for an easy save, only for one of the defenders to head past him into the empty net. While it was baffling how it actually came about, Chatteris did deserve their lead at this stage, having produced a few more chances than the away side and generally had the better of the play since their equaliser. The rest of the half saw Hemingfords push for an equaliser while Chatteris pushed for a third, but no further goals came before half-time. 2-1 to Chatteris Town at half-time.

During the half-time break, while I was in the clubhouse getting myself a burger, the Hemingfords manager was holding his team talk on the pitch, understandably unhappy with how things had progressed for his side throughout the first half. However, if he was unhappy then he would have been livid with how his side started the second half: just 5 minutes into the half, a defensive mix-up saw what should have been a comfortable clearance for the goalkeeper instead ricochet towards the goal to almost increase Chatteris' lead, only for one of the defenders to scramble clear. The home side continued on the front foot for a while after this, producing chance after chance - many courtesy of the runs down the wings from Harris-Hercules and Ashley Blanchflower - but not being able to get a third. As such, I thought that there was a good chance Hemingfords would punish them for their inability to increase the lead, but for a while it looked as if the home defence would hold firm, even if they were mainly getting through by bringing almost everyone back to defend. A particularly notable chance came just after the hour mark where Harris-Hercules was able to win the ball off the Hemingfords goalkeeper from about 35 yards out (goodness knows what he was doing that far out of goal) and could have scored, but the goalkeeper and defence were eventually able to force him off the ball to avoid further embarrassment.

However, the away side did eventually equalise on 75 minutes with an excellent goal, Jack Jefferson lobbing the ball over Chatteris goalkeeper Ryan Rayner to score from a very tight angle. This goal had a dramatic effect on both sides, revitalising a frustrated Hemingfords side but seeming to crush the confidence of the Chatteris players. This became obvious very quickly as Hemingfords instantly charged forwards again while the Chatteris defenders, who had been hassling and harrying the Hemingfords attackers all game, were no longer doing so with the same urgency, giving the away side much more freedom to play. As such, it was unsurprising when they scored again four minutes later, Will Greatorex able to tap in unmarked from close range after a cross was not dealt with. The away side then scored again three minutes later, former Chatteris player Lily Parmenter receiving a cross unmarked and then shooting from just inside the box to score. Hemingfords could have then scored a couple more before the game finished, but no further goals materialised and so it finished 2-4.

Overall, this was an entertaining contest between two sides who both looked better than their positions would suggest, with the game largely able to flow without incident (less so in the second half than the first, but even then there weren't many stoppages). In the end, Hemingfords did deserve the three points, but at the same time Chatteris should have secured at least one point considering the position they were in. However, as is understandable for a team bottom of the league, they just seemed to run out of steam and lose all confidence in the last 15 minutes and ended up caving in as a result. It's looking likely that Chatteris will be relegated at the end of the season, and if that does occur I would hope that they are able to rebuild as a result, as they're very well-supported for this level and have a great ground for it as well.

Overall, this was another highly enjoyable groundhop, with an entertaining match (the most goals I've seen in a game in 2018 so far), excellent ground and friendly club, with the only slight disappointment being the burger I had at half-time (although perhaps I've raised my expectations overly high after how good the food was at Grantham). Still, that wasn't close to enough to put a damper on a great day, and I would seriously recommend anyone who hasn't visited this ground to do so whenever they can.

With this being my 22nd new ground of the season (I've now doubled the number of grounds I've visited in the space of one season), I'm now aiming to do just three more before the season ends, as ending the season on 25 new grounds visited will be very satisfying. 

My plans for my last three grounds of the season are as follows: first, I'm aiming to visit Eynesbury Rovers this coming Thursday to watch Yaxley play there, then I'm going to go somewhere further afield from University on the 28th (I haven't thought about where yet, but I'll start investigating in due course) and then I'll be finishing with Yaxley's cup final at Raunds Town on the 7th of May. 

The Ground

West Street is one of the hidden gems at Step 7 and below, with an impressive 250-seater main stand on the dugout side, a small covered standing area directly across from that (probably able to hold 100 or so people at most) and some additional cover behind the near goal, courtesy of overhangs from the clubhouse and changing room roofs.

The pitch is almost fully railed, with only a few areas at the far end not railed off, although some of the railing is starting to falling apart. There's hard standing behind the near goal and along each side up to the respective stands, but everything after this is grass. There is also a second pitch behind the main stand. Everything at the ground is in the club's colours, which makes it feel much more unique and homely than it otherwise would.

The ground has an overall capacity of 2,000, a level which was once reached back in May 1988 for a local derby against March Town United. Also of interest, West Ham United used this as their base during World War 2, when they were understandably unable to play in London.

As it is, this is an excellent ground for Step 7 and, given that it has working floodlights as well, it would also be a fine addition to Step 6 should the club ever be in a position to return to that level in the future; some work would be needed in that scenario, mainly minor touches such as adding a pay box to take admission or fixing the broken railing. However, that's likely a long way off, but until then West Street will be one of the best grounds below Step 7 from next season, should Chatteris be relegated at the end of the season as currently appears likely.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Grantham Town - South Kesteven Sports Stadium

Grantham Town FC
South Kesteven Sports Stadium
Trent Road
NG31 7XQ

Ground: 43
Date: 2nd April 2018
Grantham Town 3-1 Shaw Lane
Northern Premier League Premier Division

Grantham Town FC - History

Grantham Town were founded in 1874 as Grantham FC, initially joining the Midland Amateur Alliance League, which they resigned from during the 1892/93 season. They then joined the Grantham & District League and stayed there for a few years before returning to their previous level, before then becoming one of the founding members of the Central Alliance League in 1911.

At the end of the 1924/25 season, the club won the league and moved up into the Midland League, before joining the Central Combination League in 1933. However, they only lasted one season in this league, finishing second-from-bottom and then returning to the Midland League as a result. The club once again left the Midland League to join the Central Alliance League in 1959, being placed in its Division 1 South. However, like before, they didn't last long at this level and returned to the Midland League after two seasons.

The club went on to win the Midland League in 1964, 1971 and 1972, as well as finishing as runners-up in 1938, 1965 and 1970. After the title win in 1972, the club were promoted to Division 1 North of the Southern League, winning that at the first attempt to earn promotion to its Premier Division. However, relegation followed in 1978 when the club finished bottom, but they immediately bounced back by winning Division 1 North the following season. 

However, rather than returning to the Premier Division of the Southern League, the club were instead transferred to the Northern Premier League. The club didn't last long at this level though, suffering relegation in 1985 and being transferred to the Midland Division of the Southern League. 

The club changed to its current name in 1987, but did not experience much on-field success until the 1997/98 season, when the club won the Midland Division to return to the Southern League Premier Division. However, they were relegated again at the end of the 1999/2000 season, this time being placed in the Eastern Division of the Southern League. The club once again returned to the Premier Division in 2002 with a runners-up finish, before transferring to the Northern Premier League Premier Division at the end of the 2005/06 season.

The club were then relegated to Division 1 South of the Northern Premier League in 2007, where they remained until winning the title in the 2011/12 season to return to the Premier Division, where they have remained ever since, recording a best finish of 8th last season and currently looking on course to better that and finish in the play-offs.

Grantham Town have an illustrious record in FA competitions compared to many non-league clubs, progressing as far as the 3rd Round of the FA Cup on three occasions (1883/84, 1886/87 and 1973/74), but also making it to the 2nd Round on six occasions (most recently in the 1970/71 season) and reaching the 1st Round on eleven occasions (most recently in the 2003/04 season, when they beat Stafford Rangers, Ashington and Ashton United before losing 2-1 at home to Leyton Orient). As for the FA Trophy, the club progressed as far as the Quarter Finals twice, first in the 1971/72 season (beating Bangor City, Connah's Quay Nomads and Chorley before losing to Yeovil Town) and most recently in the 1997/98 season (beating Marine, Leigh RMI, Bath City and Hednesford Town before losing to Southport).

My Visit

Originally, I had entirely different plans over the Easter Weekend, aiming to watch Yaxley play at Kirby Muxloe on Easter Saturday for my 43rd groundhop, and then aiming to watch Yaxley play at Eynesbury Rovers yesterday for my 44th. However, as is starting to become a frustrating tend, the intervention of weather put paid to both of those games early on, and as such my 43rd groundhop was delayed until yesterday.

However, it wasn't easy finding a game yesterday at all, as while I started the morning with 10 back-ups, almost all of these were gone at 10am, and of those remaining (Corby Town, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Histon and Grantham Town) all but this one soon fell by the wayside after pitch inspections had the inevitable outcomes.

 This sums up yesterday's weather

As such, it was a matter of waiting for definitive confirmation that the Grantham game was going ahead (they had sounded very confident about it on Twitter all morning, but as I've learnt, that doesn't always mean anything), and this news came at around 10:40am. As such, I explained the situation to my mum and stepfather (who would be driving me to wherever I ended up yesterday) and plans were quickly made.

Grantham Town fans in the covered terrace just before kick-off

We set off at around 1:45pm and, after getting stuck in a little bit of traffic here and there, I arrived at the ground at around 2:35pm, grabbing the last programme for £2 before paying my £10 admission to enter the ground. I then did my usual circuit of photos before heading to the food hut just before kick-off, eventually getting my so-called Gingerbread Burger just after kick-off (it was a delicious double-bacon cheeseburger, and at £3.50 was very good value for money) before going to stand in the nearest uncovered terrace.

While I got the league table ready for my blog as usual, I didn't actually look at it in detail before the match, so I didn't know either side's exact position in the table. However, I did know that both were competing in and around the play-offs and that both were firmly in the promotion race. As such, I expected this to be a close and feisty contest, but I wasn't really sure which way the game would swing.

Here's my report on what was very much a game of two halves in difficult windy conditions, with Shaw Lane edging the first half and Grantham largely dominating the second to win in front of their largest crowd of the season of 484 people:

Grantham started the game slightly on the front foot, creating a decent chance on 6 minutes that caused some trouble for Shaw Lane's goalkeeper Eddie Wilczynski. However, it was the away side who opened the scoring against the run of play on 11 minutes, some lax defending allowing a cross into the box that Kieran Lugsden tapped in at the far post. While this was against the run of play at the time, it gave Shaw Lane a significant boost in confidence that saw them start to exert some degree of control over the game, although Grantham did create a great chance on 18 minutes, one that many people in the ground (myself included) initially thought had gone in: Curtis Burrows received the ball near the box and got a shot away, but it was deflected just wide and into the side netting for a corner.

The half continued with each side creating chances here and there, but a couple of patterns in the play quickly became apparent: namely, the aforementioned wind - which I didn't notice standing on the terrace, but was causing many goal kicks, crosses and through balls to go massively wayward - and the subtle time-wasting efforts of Shaw Lane, particularly from Wilczynski (starting from about 15 minutes onwards, he was taking as long as possible to get up after saves and to take goal kicks, and a similar approach was taken in relation to throw-ins, albeit with much more subtlety). Both of these factors hindered the quality of proceedings, but Grantham steadily started to grow into the game as the half continued, while Shaw Lane seemed satisfied with their one-goal lead, with not much ambition to increase it. In any event, half-time arrived without many incidents of note, with the away side maintaining their tenuous yet seemingly comfortable lead (though it was only a one goal lead, Grantham didn't really look like scoring in the first half, and it was entirely reasonable to assume that this could continue after the break.

The second half was initially very stop-start, with niggly fouls and injuries halting proceedings and consistently disrupting the flow of the game. It didn't take long for things to calm down, though, and the game was able to flow again, something which seemed to benefit Grantham much more than Shaw Lane. While there had been small hints of it in the first half, the creativity of the Grantham attacking line-up starting to become apparent, with Tom Batchelor going close twice, first being unable to make contact with a corner in the 63rd minute and then having a header well-saved by Wilczynski in the 66th. The game then well and truly came to life in the 68th minute when Grantham finally equalised, Tom Batchelor slinging a ball forward to Danny Meadows, who played the ball into the centre of the box for star striker Lee Shaw to collect the ball and dribble past some defenders and then Wilczynski to score. The goal had certainly been coming, and it wasn't at all surprising when another came just five minutes later, Jordan Hempenstall playing a ball into the box where, after a defensive scramble, Lee Shaw got a shot away to score his second of the game, and his 32nd of the season.

At this point, the momentum had fully swung Grantham's way and, despite some efforts by Shaw Lane to create some chances and get back into the game (in particular, Godwin Abadaki always looked threatening for the away side, and it was to the Grantham defence's credit that he didn't have much of an influence on proceedings), they were now in complete control, creating chance after chance. However, they did very nearly give away a goal after Lee Shaw's second, Kieran Preston almost playing himself into trouble in the Grantham goal and almost giving Abadaki an open goal to score in. Fortunately for Preston, Batchelor was on hand to deal with it, preserve Grantham's lead and spare his goalkeeper's blushes. Samuel Osborne almost scored a third for Grantham not long after this, Lee Shaw's ball setting him free in acres of space to shoot, only for his shot to hit the post and head back out into play. The third goal eventually came on the 83rd minute, Oliver Luto's free kick from 25 yards out being cleared out of the box to Jordan Hempenstall, who was able to move into the box and get a powerful shot away to score.

After this, with Grantham satisfied with their lead and Shaw Lane having nothing to offer in response, the game largely petered out, with the only notable incidents being a couple of rough tackles from the Shaw Lane players, undoubtedly coming out of sheer frustration. One of these incidents almost threatened to boil over, but the referee (who had been done a reasonable job, making a few questionable decisions but mostly seeming consistent) dealt with the situation quickly to avoid that, although many were dissatisfied with the yellow card given to the offending Shaw Lane player as they (correctly, in my opinion at least) thought that the tackle was dangerous enough to justify a red card. In any case, the game finished without further goals, and Grantham finished as deserved victors.

Overall, it wasn't very easy to write a match report for this game, partially because a reporter for the local newspaper had already published his report online but mainly because, while there were several notable incidents throughout the game, there were large stretches where virtually nothing happened, especially in the first half: the ball spent a lot of time in the air - not helped by the wind, in fairness - and, as such, there wasn't much to really take in from a tactical or entertainment perspective. However, despite that, I still feel that this was mostly a good game, with Grantham steadily growing into the game and eventually producing a dominant performance against a disappointing Shaw Lane, who looked very poor for a side chasing promotion. However, Shaw Lane are in that promotion race for a reason, so it will be interesting to see if they can bounce back and finish in the play-offs, and to see if Grantham can maintain their current form to do the same, or maybe even go one bettter (although Altrincham's seven-point gap makes this unlikely, but not impossible).

On the whole, though this was once again not the intended destination (I seriously hope that's the last time I have to type that this season), this was another enjoyable groundhop, with a good game, excellent food and a great atmosphere throughout, and the weather ended up being fairly reasonable throughout as well (not much rain during the game, just lots of the wind, and the sun did come out every now and then).

As for future plans, my next groundhop is likely to not be until Saturday the 14th, when I hope to visit Chatteris Town, but I am going to try to convince my dad to take me to Norwich CBS on Saturday after the early kick-off at Carrow Road, which will likely be yet another miserable result in a poor season. However, I don't expect that to happen, so the 14th is most likely for my next groundhop. Other than that, Yaxley's game at Eynesbury has been rearranged for Thursday the 19th, so I'll try and go to that if I can.

The Ground

South Kesteven Sports Stadium is a much-maligned ground, but one that I personally feel is under-appreciated by many people. Really, the only issue is the athletics track around the pitch, which does mean that you are quite far away from the pitch wherever you stand or sit. However, the ground is largely built in such a way as to do a good job of offsetting this, with decent elevation provided by the main stand, the two uncovered terraces and the covered terrace.

The main stand is on the near side of the ground and provides seating for 650 people, which is split across two tiers (most of the seating is in the upper tier, though). On either side of the main stand is an uncovered terrace, each of which provides standing space for around 450 people. Across from the main stand, on the dugout side of the ground, is a large covered terrace, which provides standing space for around 1,000 people and was today used by some of the most vocal Grantham fans.

Other than this, the rest of the ground is open hard standing, but there are five steps of terracing behind each goal that curve around the perimeter, with large grass banks behind each of these. Official, the ground's current capacity is 3,960, but the club believe this could be increased to 5,000 with the addition of more turnstiles. As it is, though, the ground is more than good enough for Step 3 and would likely be sufficient for Step 2, should the club be promoted to that level this season or in the future.