Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Taunton Town F.C. - Wordsworth Drive

Taunton Town F.C.

Taunton Town F.C.
Wordsworth Drive Stadium
Wordsworth Drive

Ground Number: 89
Date: Tuesday 7th March 2023
Score: Taunton Town F.C. 1-3 Hampton and Richmond Borough F.C.
Competition: Vanarama National League South
Attendance: 456

It has been two months since my last groundhop which was my visit to Whaddon Road for Cheltenham Town vs Salford City which you can read about here! Since my last groundhop, I have been very busy working the adult weekends at Butlins and working through February half term meaning I have not had any time to do any groundhopping however the Darts UK Open is here at Butlins meaning the resort is closed for a couple of days to allow the arena to be dismantled. This allowed me to have a chance to squeeze in a cheeky groundhop before the next adult weekend. I spent some time looking at the fixtures for the Tuesday night and I really had my work cut out as there was so many options.
I really could not make any decisions on which game to go to but I was looking at going to either Reading, Huddersfield, Stockport County, Plymouth or Taunton. Unfortunately the train fare for me and Charlotte were ridiculous and after working a near 40 hour weekend, the last thing I wanted to do was travel hundreds of miles on a train as I was already exhausted but I was still very undecided. The darts weekend was actually quite chill and was a very fun weekend to work behind the bars however I was knackered so I made my choice to go for the most local game on the night which was Taunton vs Hampton and Richmond.
I was actually quite glad that I had chosen this game to go to because its only 25 miles away from Minehead and meant I wouldn't have a long travel day and I could finally tick off Taunton as every time I have tried to go recently, the game has been called off due to a waterlogged pitch so I thought getting Wordsworth Drive ticked off would be a big benefit in the future! Another reason why I chose Taunton is the bus fare is usually over £10 for a return and at the moment, a return is £4 so we would definitely be taking advantage of the cheaper bus fares!
There we go, it was finalised, me and Charlotte would be heading to Wordsworth Drive and I was honestly quite excited to finally tick off this classic ground especially as it is my most local semi-professional club and only biggish non league team in the area! Monday was spent sleeping off the exhaustion of working the weekend and just watching tv and having a takeaway for dinner and then going back to bed around 1am. After a terrible nights sleep, I finally got myself up at 11am and made myself a cup of tea and watched some Doctor Who and then chilled for a while. There was a bus back to Minehead at 10:30pm however the buses in Somerset have not been reliable recently so I decided to make it a proper night away and stay at the Premier Inn near the ground and then travel back Wednesday meaning I wouldn't be as exhausted from the trip!
We both packed our overnight bags before leaving Butlins at 3pm to catch the bus to Taunton. We was originally planning on getting the 3:45pm bus to Taunton however the bus simply did not turn up which proves my earlier point of the buses in Somerset not being very reliable at the moment. This did annoy me slightly however the 4:15pm bus turned up so we had only lost half an hour however we made sure we had plenty of time so we was not too bothered about this delay! This slight delay gave me a chance to look into the history of Taunton Town FC!
Taunton Town FC were founded by a bunch of businessmen in 1947 and currently play their home games at Wordsworth Drive which has a capacity of 2,500 and 393 seats! The club joined Somerset Senior League until 1953 when they joined the Western League in 1954. In the same year they found their current home at Wordsworth Drive. At the end of the 1968/69 season, the club won the Western League and they were runners up four seasons in a row between 1973 and 1976. In 1977, the club were promoted to the Southern League. In 1983, the club made a financial decision to drop back down to the Western League and won the league in 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2001! In 1994, the club reached the FA Vase Final but lost in extra time however they did finally win the FA Vase in 2001! In 2002, the club re-joined the Southern League and when the English league system was changed, the club were placed in the Southern League Division One South & West. In 2018, the club were promoted to the Southern League Premier and then in 2022, the club were promoted to the Vanarama National League South!
Once on the bus, I was feeling very hungry because I hadn't eaten yet today so we both planned to go to the Wetherspoons for dinner once in Taunton! The journey to Taunton took 90 minutes and feels like forever as I always say when doing these blogs and have to travel to Taunton by bus! We arrived at Wetherspoons at 5:50pm and found ourselves a table and ordered our food. I decided to go for a buttermilk chicken burger and Charlotte went for the pasta alfredo. It was only a 10 minute wait for food which was pretty fast and it was pretty standard like most Wetherspoons food however it did the job! 
After finishing our food, we left at 6:30pm and then made the 20 minute walk to Wordsworth Drive! By this time, the weather had got chilly but we both wrapped up warm so this did not bother us too much. After a nice walk from the town centre, we arrived at Wordsworth Drive just before 7pm. We then paid £12 each for entry which for a tier 6 game is about average price so couldn't really complain at the prices. We then walked round the ground to get some pictures and visit the club shop to get a matchday programme!
Wordsworth Drive has a capacity of 2,500 which 393 seats. Each end of the ground has some form of cover which is good to see and the ground has a very classic non league feel and is one I am a big fan of! The biggest stand is the Tom Harris Stand which has a mixture of seats and terracing. There are 288 seats and room for around 150 standing within the covered stand on either sides of the seated area of the stand. Opposite the Tom Harris Stand is the main area of the ground which holds the club shop, bar and the Taunton Plumbing and Heating Stand which is a very old and classic seated stand with room for 95 seats! The bar inside the ground is very modern but basic with seats inside, TV`s and a paid bar but nothing special but it does the job. Behind both goals are an identical terrace which I am a big fan of, one is called the Travis Perkins End and the other being the Showtime Attractions End!
I am a very big fan of this classic ground mainly because it has some form of covered stand at each end of the ground and its classic look. I love how the club have not ruined the look of the ground by modernising it with new seated stands and kept the look and size of the ground relative to what the club needs. Once I did my walk around the ground and took my pictures, we both visited the club shop to buy a match day programme which was £3, a very standard price so no complaints there! We then headed to the Tom Harris Stand and found some seats for the match and then 10 minutes before kick off, I went to the burger vans behind one of the terraces and got myself a hot dog with onions for myself and a bottle of water for Charlotte which was only £3.50, what a bargain!!!! The hot dog looked very nice however before I had a chance to eat it, the bun fell apart but I still made the most of it and it was a decent hot dog!
The teams then came out for the match and there was a small roar from inside the ground which was good to see and then I headed back to our seats in the Tom Harris Stand! The game kicked off and it was Taunton to have the first chance of the game in the first minute with a whipped in cross which was just headed wide. The Taunton loyal all stood behind the goal and were chanting here and there and also had a drum which was good to see and it was not a bad turn out for a Tuesday night game! Nothing much happened for the next 10 minutes but Taunton had another chance in the 11th minute with another whipped cross and was headed onto the crossbar and missed from close range! It definitely should have been 1-0 to the peacocks however it was not meant to be! 
In the 20th minute, Hampton whipped in a corner and was headed in and the travelling 30 or so HRB fans cheered loudly and it was 1-0 to the beavers! 8 minutes later, Taunton had a chance which just missed and was definitely a corner but was not given but it did not matter because 1 minute later, HRB had a goal kick which went upfield but was intercepted and Taunton went forward and scored a one on one chance to make it 1-1 and the Taunton loyal went wild! Taunton had another chance to score in the 40th minute but the shot went wide but it would be HRB to score the next chance in the 43rd minute as the whipped in another chance and scored and then shortly after the half time whistle blew and it was 2-1 to HRB!
Half time and it was 2-1 to Hampton & Richmond, by this time we decided to stand behind the goal with the Taunton fans as the view from the Tom Harris Stand was not the best and it would allow us to get a better view of the game! We walked round to the Showtime Attractions End and then was looking to get a hot drink however the queue was quite long so we decided to pass on that and just go without. We found a place to stand in the Showtime Attractions End and then shortly after, the teams came back out for the second half and was hoping that Taunton could turn it around and get the win!
The second half started and there was not much action in the first 15 minutes of the second half and there was a lot of questionable decisions from the referee and the Taunton fans were getting very agitated and annoyed and it was a very angry atmosphere however they did decide to chant here and there but they definitely were letting themselves down, they had the crowd behind the goal and the drum but stayed quiet for most of the game? In the 62nd minute, Hampton had a chance one on one and put it in the back of the net and made it 3-1 and it was definitely game set and match seeing as Taunton were playing very bad! 
There was a few chances here and there in the last 25 minutes of the game for Hampton but the score remained 3-1 and it was a really bad performance in the second half for Taunton but it was just one of them days and it was going to be the team who struggles to win away and travelled over 175 miles to take the 3 points deservedly as it finished 3-1 to Hampton and Richmond! The Taunton fans were very upset but still clapped the team off at the end. Personally I was very disappointed with the atmosphere, I have seen the Taunton fans on social media creating a decent atmosphere even in the midweek games but with the way they were playing, they definitely could have provided a bit of atmosphere to edge their team on!
We left the ground at 9:45pm feeling glad I had finally ticked off Wordsworth Drive but a bit disappointed with the game and atmosphere but you cant always get what you want but I was more happy that I had finally ticked off this classic ground in Somerset. We then walked half an hour to the Premier Inn, checked in and then settled down before going to bed at midnight. Our original plan to get the bus home was interrupted as we has snow fall in the night meaning the buses were suspended so we got our friend Emily to pick us up at 11am instead as we needed to get back home. The drive back to Minehead was quite fun in the snow but uneventful and we finally arrived back at Butlins at midday!
I really did enjoy my visit to Wordsworth Drive and would recommend it as it is a classic non-league ground with a lot of character! The staff at the club are very friendly and so are the fans but the atmosphere is hit or miss and on another day it could have been decent but it was average at best on this visit but overall, for the money we spent, it was a good night at the football and a night out of Minehead and obviously ticking off another ground is worth any amount of money! I personally would suggest going on a Saturday game as you would more than likely get a better atmosphere but none the less, I did enjoy this groundhop!
Stadium: 8/10
Bar: 5/10
Food and Drink: 7.5/10
Atmosphere: 5/10
Friendliness: 8/10
Value For Money: 10/10
Overall Rating: 7.3/10

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Cheltenham Town F.C. - Whaddon Road

 Cheltenham Town F.C.

Cheltenham Town F.C.
Whaddon Road Stadium
Whaddon Road
GL52 5NA

Ground Number: 88
Date: Tuesday 10th January 2023
Score: Cheltenham Town F.C. 3-1 Salford City F.C.
Competition: Papa John`s Trophy Quarter Final
Attendance: 1,874

After visiting Torquay United on Saturday which you can read here, I was eager to tick off another new ground and seeing as Butlin`s is still closed for our shutdown period, it was the perfect time to visit a new ground and there was 3 options for us to visit on the Tuesday night which was Bristol Rovers vs Plymouth Argyle, Hereford FC vs Farlsey Celtic or Cheltenham Town F.C. vs Salford City. It was a really hard decision as all three games were very tempting and originally I was aiming to go to Hereford but with the weather still being wet and windy, we could not commit to one particular game just in case it was called off. 
We left it till the morning off the game to see what the weather was like and all the games were going ahead so I started to look at prices of tickets. Hereford was going to be £18 for an adult which for the National League North is ridiculous so I was immediately uninterested in this game as I was not willing to pay that much for a game in the 6th tier! Bristol Rovers tickets were looking around £10-£15 each which is much better but my fiancĂ©e Charlotte is a Rovers fan and I wanted to save this visit to go with her seeing as she is back home visiting family at the moment so it was Cheltenham Town we was heading for!
I looked online at tickets for the game and it was £6 for an adult ticket which is cheaper than most non-league games so I had to definitely take this opportunity of going to Whaddon Road for this extremely cheap price! For this game, I bought the tickets for myself and Emily as she was coming to the game as well and she paid for the petrol for the trip and I agreed to pay for food at the ground so we both paid the same amount of money each which is the fairest way to do trips like this. Once I found out the prices for the game, I went onto Cheltenham`s website and purchased two adult tickets in the HGV Drivers UK (Main Stand) as it would have the best view of the game and ground!
Once I purchased the tickets to the game, I contacted Emily to tell her which game we was going to and then spent the morning updating some other areas of my blog and some general cleaning around my flat and then had some lunch and then at 3pm, I met Emily and we went to Tesco and filled up the car and got some snacks for the journey once again. Seeing as we was leaving quite early to allow us enough time to travel to the game just in case of traffic, we decided to stop at Gordano Services in Bristol after driving for just over an hour and then got some KFC for an early dinner as we did not want to spend too much money on food inside of the stadium.
We left Gordano Services at 4:30pm and then continued on our journey to Gloucestershire and to be fair, the traffic was nearly non-existent which we was very surprised about as we was travelling in the rush hour so leaving early definitely worked but then again, you can never predict the traffic especially this time of day! As we got closer to Cheltenham, we did encounter a tiny bit of traffic but it did not effect our journey and we arrived into Cheltenham at 5:30pm. We then looked for a few places to get a drink before the game and I quickly had a look into the history of Cheltenham Town!
Cheltenham Town F.C. were founded in 1887 and currently play in the Sky Bet League One. They play their home games at Whaddon Road which has a capacity of 7,066 and there are 3,912 seats. Between 1887 and 1932, the club competed at a local level before joining the Birmingham Combination League. In 1935, the club joined the Southern League Western Section. Between 1955 and 1985, the club had various promotions and relegations within the Southern League before joining the Alliance Premier (Conference Premier) in 1985 but they only remained here in 1992. The club were then Southern League runners up for 4 out of 5 seasons before re-joining the Conference. In 1998, the club won the FA Trophy and in 1999, the club were Conference champions and FA Trophy semi-finalists. In 2002, the club were promoted to Division Two but were relegated the season after. In 2005, they were promoted from League Two into League One before being relegated again in 2009. In 2015, the club were relegated to the National League but were promoted back up in 2016 and then were promoted back to League One in 2021!
With plenty of time before the game, we decided to go to the Moon under the Hill Wetherspoon`s for a quick pre-match drink, I myself had a fireball and orange juice and Emily only had a soft drink seeing as she was driving back later on after the game. We sat in Wetherspoons for about half an hour and then at 6:15pm, we left and made the 25 minute walk to Whaddon Road. By this time it had finally stopped raining but had got quite cold but we had both wrapped up warm so this was not a problem for either of us! We discussed the game whilst walking to the ground and then at 6:45pm, we arrived at Whaddon Road! We then purchased a match day programme which was £3 and then got our tickets scanned and headed into the stadium and then found our seats. I then updated all of my social media and then took some pictures of this cute little stadium!
Whaddon Road has a capacity of 7,066 and has 3,912 seats. At one end of the ground is the newest addition to the stadium. The Hazlewoods Stand which was opened in December 2005 and has a capacity of 1,100 fans. It is particularly steep in its design, has a perspex windshield to one side and perspex panels incorporated into its roof, to allow more light to reach the pitch. The stand is unusual in the respect that it has a couple of more rows of seats on one side of it. There is also a small electric scoreboard on its roof. On one side of the ground is another relatively new stand. the Colin Farmer Stand (named after a former Vice Chairman of the Club) was opened in November 2001. This stand sits proudly at one side of the pitch and houses 2,034 supporters. It is a covered, all seated, single tiered stand, part of which is given to away supporters. The ground is now enclosed in one corner where the two new stands meet, although it is not used for spectators. On the other side of the pitch is the HGV Drivers UK Main Stand, which was opened in 1963. It has seating to the rear and terracing at the front. Straddling the halfway line, it does not extend the full length of the pitch, having open spaces to either side. At one end is the small covered terrace, called the Prestbury Road Stand, which is the home end of the ground. (Description of Whaddon Road from Football Ground Guide).
I am really liking Whaddon Road as a stadium, there is just something about having a very old main stand on one side and then a standard covered terrace behind one of the goals and then having a modern but small seater stand behind the other goal and alongside the pitch. It is a rather unique stadium in my opinion and definitely one of my favourite that I have visited so far! I love how the club have put the name of the club and the club`s nickname in the seats, I know this is very common however you do not see it as much at this level so the fact that the club have done this definitely adds a lot of extra looks for the stadium!
After taking some pictures of the ground, I saw some other fans getting some food and with it going to be a quiet game, we knew that the catering vans probably wouldn't have too much food available so we both decided to go get food whilst it was available rather than leaving it till half time. Unfortunately I did not see any burgers available so I had to go for a standard rollover hot dog for £4 and Emily went for the same as there was not too many options which is sad to see. It was not a bad hot dog but a shame that it is not home made but it is better than having nothing. There isn't a bar inside the ground as far as I'm aware but there is one before you enter the turnstiles however it is very standard, no pool tables or darts board, just a bar and tables from my research so in terms of food and drink facilities, it is very average here at Whaddon Road!
The rain had started to fall again so we finished our food back in our seats and then shortly after, the teams made their way onto the pitch. A lot of the ground had been closed off due to it being a cup game meaning half of the Colin Farmer Stand was closed off and the Prestbury Road Terrace was closed as well but this was a good thing if anything as it allowed the fans to stay close together creating a better atmosphere within the stadium however there was no signs of any fans singing so far which was disappointing! The game shortly kicked off and the Salford fans started singing however there was no more than 50 of them but fair play to all those who travelled!
The first 10 minutes of the game were heavily dominated by Cheltenham with them dominating possession and having a good few chances however it would be Salford that take the lead with just 13 minutes played as there was a scramble in the box which caused a rebound and was tapped in and the travelling fans went wild! Just 5 minutes after taking the lead, Salford had another chance to score but it went wide and the mood inside Whaddon Road was very tense! It was end to end football until the 44th minute when the ball finally was smashed into the box and went over the keeper and straight in making it 1-1 and Whaddon Road roared! Shortly after this, the half time whistle blew and it was 1-1 and had been a very good game of football so far but unfortunately there was no atmosphere mainly with the singing areas of the ground are closed a the ground is only 30% full but then again, we knew that the atmosphere was going to be one of those tonight!
During half time, the rain had finally stopped once again however it was definitely starting to get quite cold now but we had both wrapped up similar to our visit to Torquay so it was not too much of a problem for us! As per usual, I updated all of my social media platforms to keep all my followers updated and then looked at some of the pictures I captured from the game and then by the time I had done this, the teams were coming back out for the second half and we was really hoping Cheltenham could get the better hand on the game and really push and get the win! It was at this time and after celebrating Cheltenham`s goal that I was really starting to fall in love with the ground and club!
The second half kicked off and the first 5 minutes of the half weren't very interesting as they had no major chances however it would be Salford to dominate the next 10 minutes of the game with two major chances in the space of 10 minutes and Cheltenham were very lucky that they were not loosing again. This is where the game took a change for the better as in the 64th minute, Cheltenham whipped the ball into the box but was saved but thankfully Liam Sercombe was there to smash it into the top corner and Whaddon Road roared and again I was really feeling the love for this club! Two minutes later new signing Will Goodwin had a direct shot one on one with the Salford keeper and made it 3-1 and then finally some atmosphere was starting to build as some of the fans sung but it only lasted for a minute. 
The crowd has started to wake up very slightly as you could hear a chant here and there in the Colin Farmer Stand but with a game like this, you aren't going to expect there to be much of an atmosphere however if you come to a league game, the place will be rocking as I have seen on social media! The game did not hold much more chances for either side, one shot went over the crossbar and Cheltenham were really trying to get a fourth goal but it just was not going to happen and then shortly after, the game finished Cheltenham Town 3-1 Salford City! 
We let the crowd head out of the stadium as we wanted to clap the players off and it was now I realised I had a massive soft spot for this club, the fans are staff are so friendly and welcoming and obviously being a QPR supporter, it is hard living 200 miles away and not being able to see them more than once or twice a season and I had decided that I needed a more local team to follow as we all as QPR similar to when I used to watch Sutton and tonight had made up my mind, it was going to be Cheltenham! Following this decision, I headed into the club shop and purchased a club scarf for £12 and Emily purchased a pin badge for her lanyard and then we walked back to the car which only took 20 minutes.
We set the sat-nav for Gordano Services again so we had a chance to get a drink for the way back and also use the loo. The roads were extremely quiet at this time of night meaning it only took 50 minutes to get back to Gordano. We quickly got a sandwich and drink in the shop as we still had another 90 minutes or so in the car back to Minehead. I have never seen the M5 so quiet in my life even when travelling on the coach between 2-4am when travelling back to London or coming home from London! After another 75 minutes of driving, we arrived back into Minehead at 12:30am and I was feeling very tired by this point so I said goodbye to Emily and then put up my scarf in my room and then went to sleep.
I really did love my groundhop to Whaddon Road, it is such a cute and unique little ground, I really did fall in love with it which I never thought would happen when visiting this ground. I know the atmosphere was not good at all for obvious reasons but I have seen so many videos and during a league game, the ground really is packed out and rocking so I will definitely be willing to give this ground another chance to prove itself however I do have to rate it based off my first visit! The fact that visiting this club on a cold quiet January night made me fall in love with the club enough to adopt them as the team I follow alongside QPR shows how much potential this has for locals to come and visit once and love the club! I would definitely recommend visiting Whaddon Road, but if you're looking for good food at the ground, this is probably the most average place to come but if you're coming on a Tuesday or Saturday for a league game, you will not be disapointed by the atmosphere!

Stadium: 9/10
Bar: 5/10
Food and Drink: 6/10
Atmosphere: 3.5/10
Friendliness: 10/10
Value For Money: 10/10
Overall Rating: 7.3/10