Friday, 22 September 2017

Minehead A.F.C. - Irnham Road

Minehead A.F.C.
Minehead A.F.C.
Irnham Road Recreation Ground
Alexandra Road
TA24 5DP


Ground Number: 50
Date: Saturday 26th August 2017
Score: Minehead A.F.C. 4-1 Yatton and Cleeve United
Competition: Somerset County League First Division West
Attendance: approx. 50

One of the best things about the Summer holidays is going on holiday and the football season returning and already, I have been to four new grounds this season and I would be going to another new ground whilst I am on holiday for the week in Minehead and the new ground that I would be visiting is Irnham Road, the home of Minehead A.F.C. and it will be ground 54 for me and ground 50 on this blog. The reason why we decided to go to Minehead for our Summer holiday instead of going abroad is because we haven't been to Minehead for over 9 years and we wanted to return to the Butlins resort in Minehead as I have a few early childhood memories from there and I wanted to go there one more time before I turn 18.
After going to Chester on Saturday, we were knackered but we spent most of Sunday packing and getting things ready. Monday finally arrived, we woke up at 5:30am and got dressed and drove to Minehead and after stopping in McDonalds in Heathrow for breafast and Newbury Services for a quick toilet break and to buy the Non-League Paper, we got back in the car and after 3 and a half hours on the road, we finally arrived at Butlins Minehead just after 10am.
We then spent the rest of the day getting to know the resort and spent time playing darts in hotshots and on the fairground. We was eventually allowed into our room at 3pm as we are gold members and we unpacked and then went to dinner and then had a shower before going out into town and going in some of the arcades along the beach and then went back to Butlins for some evening entertainment before going to bed just after 11pm. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was spent doing the normal things that you do when you are at Butlins, going on the fairground, watching some shows, arcades and other bits in-between such as playing snooker and darts. Saturday finally arrived and I woke up at 7am feeling very excited for the game this afternoon but I had to be quiet because my dad was still asleep, so I made use of the time by looking into the history of Minehead A.F.C.
Minehead A.F.C. were founded in 1889 and they currently play their home games at the Irnham Road Recreation Ground in Minehead. They also currently play in the Somerset County League Division One West. They currently play in the colours of blue and white. When Minehead A.F.C. was founded, they played in the local leagues but this changed in 1923 when they joined the Western League. In the 1970/71 season, Minehead reached the FA Cup 1st Round but lost 2-1 at home to Shrewsbury Town.
Throughout the early 1970's, Minehead achieved a few promotions in the Southern League but their most famous and successful season was the 1976/77 season when they finished as runners-up in the Premier Division which was the league below the football league at the time and today it would be the National League Premier. The club had made a few more appearances in the FA Cup throughout the 1970's. The 1980's saw the club face a few promotions and relegation's. In 1998, the club changed its name to Minehead Town FC. The club recently changed its name back to Minehead A.F.C. and in 2010, the club were relegated down to the Somerset County League.
After looking into the history of Minehead AFC, I had a quick shower and then got dressed. By this time, my dad had woken up and he also had a quick shower and I spent some time on my phone checking my social media. We were both ready at 8:20am and we then walked down to the dining hall for breakfast and I had what I always have for breakfast when I come to Butlins which is a traditional fry up. After eating breakfast, we went back to our apartment for 30 minutes to let our breakfast get down before going back out. We watched a bit of TV in the room and we then left our room just before 10am and we then walked to the Skyline Pavilion and went in the arcades and won some tickets which is something we always do when we go to Butlins and we end up getting around 10,000 tickets every time we go there. After spending some money in the arcades, we went to the fairground and went on the rides.
We then went back inside the Skyline Pavilion for a drink and I went for a coke float and it only cost £2.60 which is quite reasonable. We sat down by the main stage and watched a show even though they are for kids, I weirdly still find them interesting rather than entertaining. By the time we had finished our drinks and finished watching the show, it was 1:30pm so we decided to go back out on the funfair for 15 minutes before leaving the resort to walk up to Irnham Road. Most of the rides were quite busy but the ride with the smallest queue was the carousel so we went on that and as many people say, "it's not a Butlins holiday without a ride on the carousel". We left Butlins just before 2pm walked into the town centre and we used Google Maps on my phone to find the ground as there wasnt many signs but it only took us 15 minutes to walk from Butlins to the stadium which isnt bad at all but my legs were aching a bit, mainly due to me being unfit.
Once we arrived at Irnham Road, I took some pictures of the outside of the ground and then we went inside the bar and there was a few people in there. The bar is decent for a county league side as there are a few TV's, a dartboard and a range of different drinks available. We then purchased a programme from a man selling them in the bar and it only cost £2, we then watched the last few minutes of the AFC Bournemouth vs Manchester City game. After watching the end of the game on TV, we then headed outside and there were a few people already in the ground. We then walked around the ground to take some pictures.
Irnham Road has a capacity of around 1,500 and there are around 300 seats. The stadium is located in a public park which means you can watch the games for free. There a large seated stand which holds around 300 seats and the bar and tea hit is located under the stand. The rest of the ground is all uncovered and the pitch has a pitch side barrier and the ground feels more like a Sunday league ground but the main stand adds character to the ground.
After walking round the ground to take some pictures, we went to the tea bar to see if there was any hot food available and luckily enough there was but no cheeseburgers but they did have bacon rolls which is the next best thing so me and my dad got a backn roll for drinks, I got a can of Coke Zero and my dad got a coffee and that cost £6 which is very reasnoble. We then went up into the stand to eat our food and read the match day programme. The bacon burger was really nice and really well cooked and I woukd definitely recommend getting one.
We then headed down back to the pitchside to to get some pictures of the teams coming out. To my surprise, there was only two officials (a referee and one linesman) and this meant a women stepped in for the other linesman but I suppose at this level, you dont have many officials but it was good to see that the women was passionate to keep the going ahead by stepping in. The game eventually started and we decided to go behind the goal that Minehead were kicking towards and within a few minutes of the game, Minehead were 1-0 up and we both gave a loud cheer when they scored.
Minehead seemed very confident going into the game and it was showing very clear because a few minutes after going 1-0 up, they scored again and we cheered even loudee this time because we could see how much it meant to the team. Yatton did have a few chances to get back into the game but Minehead were on hand to keep their 2-0 lead. Minehead continued to dominate and they managed to get another two goals before half time and amazingly, it was 4-0 to Minehead at half time.
We then went and sat back up in the stand during half time to look at the half time scores and luckily enough, Sutton were beating Maidstone 1-0, that made me feel very happy because we had seen a great first half here at Irnhan Road and Sutton were winning. By the time we had looked through all the scores from all the leagues, the second half was about to start but we decided to watch some of the second half from the stand. You get quite a good view of the pitch from the stand but the two supporting pillars do block some of your view.
After about 10/15 minutes into the second half, Yatton seemed to have found a way back into the game as they scored but there wasn't a very loud cheer but thats probably due to Yatton not bringing many if any fans which was quite sad but we clapped when they scored to give them a bit of respect. Minehead dominated the rest of the second half, they were creating chances but they were being shot at the goalkeeper or they went just wide. We had a bit of a chat with the Yatton keeper as he asked whether we were Minehead fans and we said that we are here on holiday and we are also groundhoppers. The game eventually finished 4-1 to Minehead A.F.C. and we clapped the players off and then we walked back to Butlins and we also checked the other scores and Sutton had lost 3-1 which annoyed me but we had seen 5 goals and had a great afternoon for the price of £8 which is a bargain.
We eventually got back to Butlins at 5:15pm and we headed straight for dinner as we were feeling a bit peckish. We finished dinner and went back to our apartment and each had a shower and watched TV before heading out to the evening fairground and then watched a show, played darts and then went in the arcades before going to bed at 11:15pm.
Stadium: 5/10
Bar: 8/10
Food and Drink: 9/10
Atmosphere: 5/10
Friendliness: 10/10
Value For Money: 10/10
Experience As A Groundhopper: 10/10
Overall Rating: 8.1/10

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Chester F.C. - Deva Stadium

Chester F.C.
Chester F.C.
Deva Stadium
Bumpers Lane


Ground Number: 49
Date: Saturday 19th August 2017
Score: Chester F.C. 2-3 Sutton United
Competition: Vanarama National League
Attendance: 1,670

So after an amazing away game at Tranmere a few days ago, it was time to be back on the road for another away game up north and this time, we would be off to the Deva Stadium to watch Sutton United take on Chester FC. Sutton are currently in good form as we beat Tranmere away on Saturday and beat Macclesfield Town at home on Tuesday night, so we were going into the game on Saturday with confidence.
For some reason, every time I hear Chester, the first thing that comes to my mind is cheese but that is probably due to Cheshire cheese but I still find it wierd that cheese is the first thing that comes to mind. Anyway, back to the football, I was very much looking forward to this game because Chester was one of the away games I really wanted to go to last season but I was unable to go so that made it crucial that I went this season.
The days before the game went fairly slowly but that was mainly due to me being exited for the game but also because I am going on holiday on Monday. To stop myself from being bored, I spent most of Thursday and Friday watching highlights of previous Chester games and the highlights of the previous times when we have played against Chester. On Friday evening, my dad picked me up as I was going to be sleeping round his house as we would be leaving early tomorrow morning. I spent some of Friday night looking into the history of Chester F.C.
Chester F.C. were founded in 2010 and are a phoenix club of the original Chester City F.C. who dissolved in 2010. The newly formed Chester F.C. started life in the Northern Premier Division One North (8th tier of English Football) and they were very successful in their first season (2010/11) as they won the league and they had an average attendance of 2,382 and they were promoted to the Northern Premier Division and once again, they had another very successful season as they won the league and they were the 2011/12 Northern Premier League champions.
The 2012/13 season wasn't to disappoint any of the Chester fans as they had won the league again and had found themselves in the Conference North at the start of the season and by the end of the season, they had found themselves promoted to the top tier of non-league football (Conference Premier). Chester's first season in the Conference Premier wasn't full of success as they finished in the relegation zone (21st) but luckily the club was reprieved which meant they were able to avoid relegation. The 2014/15 season showed a lot of improvement from the club as they finished 12th but the two following seasons saw them finish 17th and 19th and to this day, they are still currently playing in the National League (Conference Premier).
After looking into the history of Chester FC, I watched some TV and spent some time on social media before going to bed at 11pm. It didn't take me very long to get to sleep but compared to last Friday night (night before Tranmere), I feel asleep much quicker. I woke up at 5:40am feeling very tired but feeling excited but me not being a very good early morning person, the tiredness slightly ruled over the excitement. By the time we had gotten to South Wimbledon tube station, I wasn't feeling as tired as I was earlier but I was still more tired than excited.
Once I was on the tube and heading for Euston, I started to wake up more mainly because the tube is so loud. The tube wasn't busy which was good but when we got nearer to the centre of London, the tube did get a bit more busier. We arrived at Euston at 7am and by now, I was feeling much more awake. We then went and got our pre-paid tickets from the machine and after that, we got our breakfast and me being me decided to have something unhealthy and it was Burger King and I had my normal order of a bacon double cheeseburger XL meal with diet coke whereas my dad got a bacon sandwich and a coffee.
After having breakfast, we sat down and waited for our train platform to be announced and I took the time to go on social media and sent out a tweet on my Twitter. Our train platform was announced at 7:45am and it was the platform right on the end of the station and it was also a very small train (4 coaches) but I suppose not many people go from Euston to Chester on a Saturday morning. We walked to coach A which is the quiet coach as we prefer to sit in the quiet coach.
We left Euston just after 8am and by this time, I was still feeling a bit tired but I was getting a lot more excited for the game which was now only 7 hours away. To help pass the time, I put my headphones and music on to try and keep me awake because I was still feeling quite tired. I nearly fell asleep on train because I was so tired from getting up at 5:40am. As time went past, I got more excited for the game. We finally arrived into Chester just after 10am and we were both were not feeling tired anymore which was good as it mean we would be able to enjoy our day more.
We walked into Chester high (which was very traditional and historic) to get some lunch and there was a pride festival going on which was nice to see as it was bringing everyone in the local area together. There were many choices for lunch but we found a local bakery in the high street and it was very cheap compared to the prices in South London. I decided to get a chicken salad sandwich, coke zero and some gingerbread men and my dad got a sandwich and a coffee.
We then sat down and eat our lunch and by the time we had finished our lunch, it was just after 11am and seeing as there wasn't much to do in the town center, we walked to the bus station to get the bus to Bumpers Way as it is the closest bus stop to the stadium. We only had to wait around 10 minutes for the bus and if you want to get the bus, then the bus you need to get is the Sapphire 10 or Sapphire 10A. It was actually really nice seeing parts of Chester whilst on the bus and after only being on the bus for around 10 minutes, we arrived at Bumpers Way.
We got off the bus and we followed the signs for Chester FC. After you get off the bus, you have to walk down a long road which is in an industrial estate but the Deva Stadium is only a 5/10 minute walk from Bumpers Way bus stop. We finally arrived at the Deva Stadium at around midday and seeing as it was empty, we went into the bar. There were a few Chester fans in the bar and they said "hello" to us when we walked in. The bar itself is a decent size but can probably hold only around 200 people. We got a drink and for me, I decided to have a diet coke and my dad got a shandy. Whilst we were having our drink, a man came up to us and said he used to live near Sutton and now lives in Chester, it was quite enjoyable to hear his memories of Sutton United and the local area of Chester.
Then at about 1:15pm, Paul Doswell (Sutton United manager), Micky Stephens (Sutton United assistant-manager) and Tommy Wright (young striker) came into the bar and they said "hello" to us and asked about how we were and how we got up to Chester and it was good to have a chat with them three and it made me feel more proud that I support Sutton because the manager and the players will come up to and have a chat to you whereas if you support a Premier League side, the thought of a player or manager talking to you in the bar would be a dream come true whereas in non-league, its something you will experience every game and will always be proud of it.
We then purchased a match day programme as there was someone selling them in the bar. We then finished our drinks and then went outside to find the Sutton supporters coach pulling into the car park so we waited for some of our friends who were on the coach. We then walked round to the away turnstile which wasn't open yet so we waited outside. We only had to wait outside for around 10 minutes before they opened. It was only £5 for me as I am only 17 years old and £5 for admission for someone of my age is very reasonable. Once inside the ground, I put my flags up on the seated stand behind the goal as we wasn't allowed to put them in the small section that we were allocated. Once I put my flags up, I took some pictures of the ground.
The Deva Stadium has a capacity of 5,126 and there are 4,500 seats. This tidy looking ground was opened in 1992. All four sides are covered and are roughly the same height, making the stadium look quite tidy. Each stand has perspex windshields to each side, whilst the corners of the ground are open. The stadium is a small, fairly simple affair with three sides being seated and the home end being terrace. The Main (East) Stand is slightly taller than the facing Centurion Community Stand, having a few more rows of seating and some enclosed glassed viewing areas at the back of it. The home end is the only terraced area at the stadium and is called the Harry McNally Terrace after a former manager. The stadium is completed with a set of four thin modern floodlight pylons. One interesting fact about the ground is that most of it (apart from the club offices and front car park) is in actually situated in Wales. (Description of the Deva Stadium is sourced from Football Ground Guide).

After taking some pictures of the ground, I went and sat down with some of the other Sutton fans and I read the match day programme and that took up a lot of time because by the time I had finished reading the programme, it was nearly kick off. The teams came out and there was a roar from both sets of fans. Sutton were kicking towards the Harry McNally Terrace for the first half. The game kicked off and Sutton started strong as they were dominating Chester and this was clear as Sutton defender Louis John scored an amazing goal in the 5th minute to put Sutton 1-0 up. Chester didn't react well after going 1-0 down as they were really struggling to keep possession or get anywhere near the Sutton goal. They always say that the perfect time to score is right before half time and Sutton did so as young striker Tommy Wright scored from distance to put Sutton 2-0 up on the brink of half time but before we knew it, Chester were back in the game as they scored a screamer 2 minutes after Sutton went 2-0 up and at half time, Chester were back in the game as it was 2-1 to Sutton.
Like normal, we went to the tea bar during half time and got something to eat and I decided to go for a steak pie and diet coke. The pie wasn't the best in my opinion, the steak didn't taste very nice but the pastry tasted quite nice. By the time I had finished my pie, the second half was about to start so I had a quick drink just before the second half started as I was starting to lose my voice from all the chanting. Chester looked much stronger in the second half and Sutton looked like they were starting to tire and this punished Sutton as Chester equalised in the 63rd minute. Soon after Chester equalising, Sutton scored but apparently the goal was offside when it clearly wasn't because we were standing level to the goal and it was clearly onside but after Sutton had celebrated, one of the Chester players "convinced" the officials that the goal was offside and the goal wasn't given all because the Chester player convinced the officials that it was offside.
This annoyed the Sutton fans but we kept behind the team but it seemed like with 10 minutes to go, it could be anyone's game because both sides were creating chances but it seemed like Sutton couldn't find the back of the net again and we were hanging on but Sutton continued to fight until the end and it rewarded Sutton because with one minute of injury time left, Moses Emmanuel was through on goal and scored the winner and the celebrations were like we had been promoted all over again. Full time and it finished Chester FC 2-3 Sutton United and we were all very happy. We clapped the players off and I took my flags down and we headed out of the ground feeling very happy.
We walked back to the bus stop and we had a chat with some Chester fans. Luckily enough when the bus arrived, the cash machine wasn't working so we got a free ride back to the bus station. Once we were back in Chester Town Centre, it started to get a bit cold so I put my jumper on. By the time we had got back to the station, our train to Crewe was still over an hour so we went in a little bar next to the station and got dinner which for me was a sandwich, ice cream and a drink. After having dinner, we went into the station and waited for our train.
I was very tired by the time our train had arrived but it was only 20 minutes to Crewe. Luckily enough we saw the Sutton squad in Crewe as they were getting the same train as us so we congratulated them all on their great performance today. By the time our train had arrived, I was almost asleep so I was trying my best to stay awake on the train as I wanted to sleep well tonight. I had spent quite a lot of time on my phone today and it needed charging so I plugged it into my portable charger and within an hour or so, my phone was back up to 100%. We got back into London Euston at 10:15pm and we got the Underground back to South Wimbledon and drove the car back to my dads house and we finally got back at just after 11pm.
Stadium: 7/10
Bar: 7/10
Food and Drink: 7/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Friendliness: 8/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Experience As An Away Fan: 8/10
Overall Rating: 7.6/10