Sunday, 4 February 2018

Brackley Town F.C. - St James Park

Brackley Town F.C.
Brackley Town F.C.
St James Park Stadium
Churchill Way

Ground Number: 69
Date: Saturday 3rd February 2018
Score: Brackley Town F.C. 3-1 Sutton United F.C.
Competition: FA Trophy 3rd Round
Attendance: 767

One competition that I really love is the FA Trophy because we (Sutton United) generally get drawn against teams that I haven't seen before and get to go to new grounds and see different teams and it can be a really exciting competition because over the years, I have seen us play teams like Worthing and Curzon Ashton and it really is interesting seeing as I have never seen Sutton play teams like Curzon Ashton.
So far, we have done quite well in the FA Trophy as we have narrowly beaten National League South side Truro City 1-0 and beaten Bostik Premier side Hendon FC 3-0 and up next we had Barrow or Brackley away and Brackley beat Barrow in the 2nd Round Replay so it was a trip to St James Park for us and to be honest, I was really glad that Brackley had beaten Barrow because we our trip to Barrow last week in the Vanarama National League was postponed when we got there so we went to Lancaster City FC instead and you can read about it here.
Another reason why I was happy that Brackley had beaten Barrow was because Brackley was one of the teams that I wanted to try and visit over the next 3 seasons and now I would be able to visit them this season and it would be another ground ticked off and another ground nearer to my 100 target! The Saturday before the game was spent up in Barrow but the game was postponed when we goit there so we went to Lancaster City FC instead and I spent the rest of the week at college and mainly getting things ready for my trip to New York in a just over a week which kept me busy.
The week running up to the game was obviously spent at college and the week seemed to go really slowly seeing as we was starting quite a few more assignments seeing as we had now entered our second semester of the year and that means new units and of course with new units, comes new assignments. Tuesday and Wednesday were both boring and good because we were doing some actual learning as well as starting our new assignments.
Thursday and Friday were much longer as we spent both days learning and obviously when you are sitting down writing all day, the day does drag but I just got on with it like I normally do and I was enjoying some of it. I finished college at 3:30pm and then got the train home with my friend Emma and then I got off at Mitcham Junction and then got the tram and bus and was home by 4:15pm. I then had some dinner and watched some old episodes of `Britain's Busiest Airport' and then looked into the history of Brackley Town F.C. before I went to bed at 11pm.
Brackley Town F.C. were founded in 1890 and currently play in the Vanarama National League North (England's 6th Tier). They currently play their home games at St James Park which has a capacity of 3,500 and there are 507 seats. The club started out in the Oxfordshire Senior League and continued to play in local district leagues until 1977. In 1977, they joined the Hellenic League and since then and 2004, they have mainly played in the Hellenic League but did have a shor spell in the United Counties League. They joined the Southern League Western Division in 2004 and in 2006, they were placed in the Midlands League Division 1 and were quickly promoted to the Midlands League Premier. They won the Southern League Premier in 2012 and were promoted to the Conference North and that is where they still remain today.
I originally woke up at around 4am for some reason but I managed to get myself back to sleep and I was then woken up at 8am by my alarm and spent time on my phone like I normally do every morning and then got my things ready for tonight seeing as I am staying round my dad's again as it is a little bit easier. My dad arrived at 9am and we quickly had a cup of tea and then we left my house at 9:45am and drove to my nan's and my Uncle Ben was already there. We then chose to take two cars (my nan's and my uncles) as there is no point in taking 3 cars and we of course were in Ben's car.
We set the SatNav for Brackley Town F.C. and then left my nan's at 10:10am and then drove up the A3 to Weybridge and got on the M25 and then joined the M40 at Heathrow Airport and by then we had heard rumours that there was a pitch inspection at 11am so we decided to take it easy as we didn't want to get there and it being postponed. Luckily enough, the pitch passed the inspection but the referee had planned another one at 12:30pm and we then drove to Cherwell Valley Services and got something to eat and to wait and see whether the pitch passed the final inspection.
Me and Ben went for a Burger King and my dad, nan and granddad got a KFC and we then checked Twitter and the game was on. We then got back in the car and continued our journey to Brackley and we arrived at the ground at 1pm on the spot and then found somewhere to park and then walked up to the ground. We was then greeted by the two car park stewards and we had a quick chat about our journey up to Northamptonshire.
We then paid to get in and today's admission prices were £12 for my dad and £3 for me (student) which is very reasonable for an FA Trophy game. We then went in the bar and it is very large and has a dart board but unfortunately we weren't allowed to use it. We then got something to drink and my dad and Ben got a coffee and I got some kind of cider but I didn't really like it as it wasn't a flavoured cider like Kopparburg or Old Mout. My nan and granddad then came in and they had quickly gone up to the Mercedes F1 place just by the ground and they had alcoholic drinks as well but I cant remember what they were.
We was then joined by the supporters who had travelled up on the supporters coach and then our friend Terry arrived and he had a sausage bap and it looked really nice so I went and got myself one and for £3, it was alright, the sausages weren't the tastiest but the bun was really nice. We then sat down in the bar and finished our drinks and then Ben went to the club shop and he came back with a Brackley Town FC scarf which he puts in his collection and he also got me a Brackley Town FC pin badge for £3 which was very nice of him! We then went outside and walked round the ground and took some pictures.
St James Park has a capacity of 3,500 and there are 507 seats. On one side in front of the Social Club building is a small seated area, that is covered. It is situated to one side of the half way line, towards the Cricket Club End. There are also open standing areas to either side. The opposite side has no facilities for spectators, apart from a narrow pathway which runs along the perimeter fence. The Cricket Club End itself has a very small covered terrace which sits behind the goal. To either side there are small flat standing areas. This area was recently developed so that it has a covered seated stand behind the goal flanked by fair sized open terracing to either side. The ground is completed with a set of six modern floodlight pylons. (Description of St James Park is sourced from Football Ground Guide).

I do like this ground, it has a true non-league feeling to it and I like the main stand in particular and how it doesn't dominate the rest of the ground. I do like the small covered terrace behind one of the goal and it does feel more like a bus stop rather than a terrace at a football ground but I do like it. For me, the centre piece of the ground is the seated stand and standing terraces behind the goal as it is something I do like and doesn't ruin the overall look of the ground and is also quite unique in its own way.
After taking some pictures of the ground, we went and stood in the small covered terrace behind the goal and then had a chat with Tony and his girlfriend and also watched the Sutton players warm up. When the teams went back into the changing rooms, I spent some time updating my social media and then when the teams came out, I got some pictures to add to my collection and there was a roar from the 700 or so people inside St James Park. Sutton were kicking towards the other goal so we had to walk round to the other seated stand.
The game kicked off and as soon as the ball started moving you could see why the pitch needed a pitch inspection and we could all see that the game shouldn't have gone ahead! Sutton started the first half with confidence and were definitely looking like the side in the league above and the first real chance came in the 12th minute via Craig Dundas. Then on 28 minutes, Brackley take the lead from a corner and the 600 or so Brackley fans went wild! From that point, Brackley seemed to get much stronger and you could start to see why they were unbeaten at home and on 39 minutes, one of thr Sutton players pulled a Brackley player and they were awarded a penalty which they scored and the scored remained 2-0 until half time.
Half time and it was Brackley Town 2-0 Sutton United, I wasn't expecting to be 2-0 down at half time because we had dominated the majority of the first half and had created chances but they weren't that dangerous but since Brackley had gotten the opening goal, they did get stronger. We changed ends and then once back in the small covered terrace behind the goal, I updated my social media and checked my messages and by the time I had done all that, the teams were coming back out.
The second half started and Sutton didn't get a lot of time to get back into the game as Brackley scored once again in the 56th minute and it seemed like game over and we were all drowning in our sorrows behind the goal because we were getting balls into the box but the Brackley players were just too strong and physical and nothing was going our way but when we substituted on Adam Coombes and Tom Bolarinwa, the game changed and we looked a bit more confident and we did manage to get one consolation goal in the 89th minute via Tommy Wright but we didn't get anything else to try push on and make it 3-2 and it finished Brackley Town 3-1 Sutton United.
We headed out of the ground feeling disappointed that we didn't even get a replay but then we did know it was going to be a tough challenge with a unplayable pitch and being away from home against at team that are unbeaten at home. We weren't angry because we knew that we could now fully focus on our promotion push in the league and we still had the Surrey Senior Cup. Once back in our cars, we drove back to South West London with me mainly updating my social media again and listening to music and we got back to my nan and granddad's house at 6:45pm and me and my dad stayed at my nans and had a hot drink and then drove back to my dad's and got back at 7:30pm.
I did enjoy my trip to Brackley Town FC, they were quite friendly and the ground was also quite good but the atmosphere from the Brackley fans was a bit plastic with them singing the 'we love you' song that they've copied off Crystal Palace and they were also singing 'don't take me home' when they are playing at home and it made their fans behind the goal seem a bit silly because they obvisouly didn't know that they were playing at home. I would recommend going there if you live within a 2 hour drive of the ground but I don't think it would be worth it of you had to drive for over 2 and a half hours for this ground.
Stadium: 7/10
Bar: 8/10
Food and Drink: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Friendliness: 9/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Overall Rating: 7.7/10

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