Saturday 9th August 2014
Northern Counties East League Premier Division
STAVELEY MINERS WELFARE 1 BRIDLINGTON TOWN 4
Tea Hut Stuff: Large Tea 80p (too posh to call it a tea hut)
Weather: Rather sultry and warm, plenty of sunshine
Parking: Club car park
The start of the Northern Counties East season is always a welcome event on the football schedule. There are some great little clubs and friendly quirky grounds spread across this league and you always get value for money. One of the jewels in the crown as regards NCEL venues has got to be the Staveley Miners Welfare ground on Inkersall Road. Some esteemed non league bloggers and football pundits have provided plenty of terrace talk and eye catching photographs over recent years from here and the stadium has been on my hit list for some time now. I had it booked in last season but the fixture in question was unfortunately postponed. Their opening day game against the classy Bridlington Town was simply too good an opportunity to miss. I suppose this was a bit of a prolonged trip for me based upon the current range of the Match Shed and the grief I could potentially encounter for returning back to Krugg Hall well into a Saturday evening. I'd swung the event by offering the Financial Controller (wife) a deserved mystery trip to a lovely market town where she could have a good look around and treat herself, there was some extra cheesy stuff thrown in regarding "she deserved it" and the plan worked like clockwork. I was off to Staveley v Brid and my only baggage was doing her a favour by politely dumping her off in nearby Chesterfield town centre.
I've seen a good few NCEL outfits in the past but both Staveley and Bridlington have stood out as excellent footballing sides who play the game the right way. Both clubs have been fortunate to have a good Chairman, Terry Damms has done wonders with the Inkersall Road set up and the charismatic Peter Smurthwaite has provided sterling service to Bridlington, I think Peter was engaged in some witty entertaining banter with some Main Stand Staveley die hards for most of the game, great stuff to see (and hear), only in non league can you witness these kind of people, the effort and passion they put into their clubs and the game itself is a credit to them as supporters never mind chairmen, and lets not forget their colleagues, staff and helpers who develop and protect the ongoing status of their football clubs alongside them.
Derbyshire like many areas of central England had really copped for some atrocious downpours the day before the game and I was taken aback at some Staveley photos on Twitter which showed extensive waterlogging at the slightly sloping far corner of the ground. The talk on Friday night was whether the elements and some heavy forking could dry out the pitch before kick off, it was 50/50 when I signed off Friday evening. More twitter pictures from the club on Saturday morning fortunately showed a big improvement indeed, I wondered where such volumes of standing water could disappear to in such a small space of time? I know Staveley have recently had the pitch relaid but the drainage must be fantastic. Well done to all concerned.
Personally I thought it was a stifling and sultry very hot day, not quite humid but certainly a tad uncomfortable. I had the camera bag in the Match Shed but decided to leave it in the boot until the last quarter of the game, it was too warm to lug a bag about, I knew I'd be able to pop out or get a pass out to get the all important pictures of this charismatic little ground before the trip home.
As I entered through the turnstile at the Inkersall Road end my first impression was that it appears to be a big open pitch and the sunshine bathed everything in bright white light, hardly a shadow in sight, a major sun trap indeed (mind you, dont think this will be a problem from mid September onwards). It was going to be a hot one. Upon entry, to your left, there is a really nice looking clubhouse, bar, catering and function facility with alfresco seating (and boozing) on a raised bijou patio overlooking the pitch, there is plenty of natural light flooding the interior of the clubhouse, lots of decent seating, Sky Sports TV and games facilities, impressive indeed. I cannot dare really call it a tea-hut, the smart open plan catering unit adjacent to the bar offers a hearty range of hot food including a chicken curry special for this game, this looks a great facility for this level. My problem was that I'd eaten far too many pies this week already, including visits to Nelson FC and Hyde FC and a Steak Pie gut-buster pub lunch Friday afternoon on the Pennine Hills. I'd already played it safe and had a salmon sandwich from the nearby Morrisons store before entering the ground (but maybe next time I'll pig out here big style).
The ground has good covered terracing in a distinctive blue and white colour scheme at both ends of the pitch. Traversing the half way line is a functional small Main Stand with adequate practical seating offering decent views of the pitch, its a little set back from pitchside but this does not impede viewing quality. A little further up from the stand further developments are taking place, I may be wrong but I think they are kitting out a new club shop? Across the pitch there is a tall blue and white adorned tall tower structure with a video and TV complex at the top. next to it is a marquee with plastic chairs. Everything is clean and tidy and very blue and white. What struck me was how far apart everything seemed in relation to what appears to be a very big pitch (or is that just me).
I purchased the match programme for £1.50 and you certainly get your moneys worth. There is plenty to read, there is the usual club news and views, including pen pictures of the visitors and also some welcome selected views from other various contributors, a good publication I thought.
I dont go in for fine detailed match reports, there are much better qualified commentators and writers than me to detail all the intricacies of a game and I am sure both Staveley and Bridlington have people doing this perfectly well for everyone to see and read. My brief summary of this game is that Bridlington found the shop door open, strolled in, had a look around, someone made a cup of tea and then they left with all 3 points. After 30 minutes of the first half Bridlington Town led 4-0, the game was over, even the Germans wouldn't be able to turn that one around. Lets not be blase or nonchalant, Bridlington boss Gary Allanson came here with a positive game plan. His team executed it perfectly well. They completed the objectives so clinically they had won this match half way through the first half.
Staveley didn't throw the towel in and go into free-fall, they stood firm re-grouped and gave it their best, particularly in the second half. Was a 1-4 away win a true reflection of the proceedings, I would say not, perhaps 1-3 would be more fair minded. Players that stood out for me included the raw power and intricate skills of Staveley's Nathan Forbes and for Bridlington Town the supremely competent Ash Allanson, is there a better midfield player in this division, I doubt it. I was also impressed by the Bridlington forward Ombeni Ruhanduka, great player to watch, so sharp and skillful, think Gary isn't so keen at his tracking back efficiency at the moment though.
It was a shame that Joe Cooper got a painful injury for the visitors in the latter stages of the game, I wish him a speedy recovery. In all honesty I dont think this was a great game by any means, Bridlington took their opportunities but the rest of it was scrappy and somewhat disjointed. Don't think a very bobbly pitch helped a passing game but that may be due to the recent relaying of the playing surface. Of course it is very early days and teams need a few weeks to bed in new tactics, players and strategies.
I got the camera out the Match Shed with around 15 minutes left and took some photo's of this really nice ground. After that it was back to the hills, good job I remembered to pick the wife up?