Saturday, October 31, 2020

Wroxham FC

Wroxham 1 Godmanchester Rovers 0 - Eastern Counties League, Premier Division



Wroxham is a village in Norfolk, situated within the Norfolk Broads on the south side of a loop in the middle reaches of the River Bure. It lies in an elevated position above the Bure, between Belaugh Broad to the west and Wroxham Broad to the east or southeast. Wroxham is eight miles northeast of Norwich, to which it is linked by the A1151 road. The village and broad lie in an area of fairly intensive agriculture, with areas of wet woodland adjoining the broad and river. On the northern side of the Bure is the village of Hoveton, often confused with Wroxham. Wroxham Bridge was rebuilt in brick and stone in 1619 replacing a bridge built in 1576, which itself replaced an earlier, probably wooden, structure. It is considered to be the second most difficult on the Broads to navigate (after Potter Heigham) and a pilot station sits on the Hoveton side of the river to assist boaters for a fee: £12 each way per boat. The 20th-century children's author Arthur Ransome visited Wroxham in the 1930s. In his book Coot Club (1934) he describes the busy scene on the river at Wroxham Bridge with numerous boats – a wherry, punts, motor cruisers and sailing yachts – jostling for a mooring.
 

Wroxham FC was established in 1892 by George Preston, a former captain of the Norfolk County team. The club played friendly matches until entering teams into the East Norfolk League and the Norwich City Junior League. They joined the East Anglian League in 1935, but after finishing bottom of the league in 1953–54 and 1954–55, they dropped into the Norwich and District League. When the East Anglian League merged with the Norfolk & Suffolk League to form the Anglian Combination in 1964, Wroxham joined the new league, becoming a member of Section D. After winning the Norfolk Junior Cup in 1974–75, they were Division Two champions in 1975–76 and Division One champions the following season, earning promotion to the Premier Division. After winning the Premier Division of the Anglian Combination for a fifth time in 1987–88, Wroxham FC moved up to the newly formed Division One of the Eastern Counties League. They won the division in its inaugural season and were promoted to the Premier Division. Further success saw Wroxham win the League Cup and Norfolk Senior Cup in 1999–2000, the Norfolk Senior Cup in 2001–02, 2003–04 and 2007–08, and the Eastern Counties League Premier Division title in 2006–07. In 2009–10 the club reached the final of the FA Vase, but lost 6–1 to holders Whitley Bay. In 2011–12 they won the Premier Division for the eighth time this time taking promotion to the North Division of the Isthmian League. However, in 2017 the club was relegated back to the Eastern Counties League Premier Division.
 

The journey by train was made from Cheshunt via London Liverpool Street and Norwich. I used a discounted rail voucher resulting in a return fare of £5:00 (thanks again Martin). On arrival at Hoveton & Wroxham station, I took the opportunity to take the twenty five-minute amble up to Trafford Park to take some photographs of the ground whilst the sun was still shinning. The weather forecast for later on was less favourable. I also enjoyed a friendly conversation with the gentlemen who had just finished the preparation of the pitch, which on a windy autumnal day involves attempting to remove lots of leaves. Another club official who was on reserve team duty was also very welcoming.
 

For refreshment I went back into town and visited the Kings Head public house. A limited choice of ales dictated a selection between IPA and Abbott from Greene King. This was the only pub I saw, rather surprising for a tourist centre. The disappointment was lessened by a significant discount on my food order, seemingly triggered by my downloading the Greene King app to my phone. The Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas was very enjoyable. Grant Holt was part of the broadcasting team on TV that I watched in the pub. His former club, Norwich City, was playing at Bristol City. He also plays for Wroxham, but despite being listed in the match programme he wasn’t able to do both!


Trafford Park is a tidy venue. The main covered seated stand straddles the half way line. On the opposite side of the pitch is the clubhouse building, which contains the changing facilities and the bar. Immediately behind this is the Norwich – Sheringham railway line. There is also additional covered terracing behind one the goals. The remaining end of the ground is completely open to the elements.


With a 100% record following eight consecutive league victories this season, I was interested to see how the home side would get on against visitors Godmanchester Rovers, who were towards the bottom end of the table. For the opening period of the match, Rovers took the game to their hosts and were competing well. The only goal of the match was scored by Matt Ward after 17 minutes with a shot from outside of the box.


Although confident following their good form this season, Wroxham did not appear comfortable with the one goal lead. An opportunity to extend the lead, following the award of a penalty in the second half, was spurned as Harry Smart, in goal for Godmanchester Rovers, pulled off a superb save. The home side will have been relieved to hear the final whistle, confirming the extension of their winning run. They also went top of the division as a result of this win. The early part of the walk back to the station is without footpaths. This, coupled with the cars of the rapidly departing fans, mean you have to be careful until you reach the main road. I was back at the station in plenty of time for the 17:25 train to Norwich.
 


Attendance: 178
Admission: £7:00
Programme: £1:50 (28 pages)
Tea: £1:00







Saturday, October 24, 2020

Diss Town FC

Diss Town 0 March Town United 2 - Eastern Counties League, Division One North

Diss is a market town and electoral ward in South Norfolk, close to the county border with Suffolk. The town lies in the valley of the River Waveney and takes its name from dic an Anglo-Saxon word meaning either ditch or embankment. Opposite the 14th-century parish church of St. Mary the Virgin stands a 16th-century building known as the Dolphin House. This was one of the most important buildings in the town. Its impressive dressed-oak beams denote it as an important building, possibly a wool merchant's house. Formerly a pub, the Dolphin, from the 1800s to the 1960s, the building now houses a number of small businesses. Adjacent to Dolphin House is the town's market place, the geographical and social centre of the town. The market is held every Friday (except Good Friday and other holidays, when it is rescheduled to the preceding Thursday): a variety of local traders sell fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and cheeses. The market was first granted a charter by Richard the Lionheart. The town's post office and main shopping street (Mere Street) are also located by the marketplace. A railway journey from London to Diss is the subject of a poem by the late Sir John Betjeman: "A Mind's Journey to Diss". He also made a short documentary film in 1964 entitled Something about Diss.

The football club was established in 1888 following a suggestion from the local cricket club, with whom the football club initially shared the ground on Roydon Road. In 1892 the club won their first trophy, the Norfolk Junior Cup, beating the Great Yarmouth Town second team in the final. In 1906 Diss joined the Norwich and District League. In 1935 they moved up to the Norfolk & Suffolk League, and were runners-up in 1955–56. They won the league cup the following season, and again in 1960 and 1961. In 1964 the club were founder members of the Anglian Combination, winning Division One in 1967–68 (also winning the league cup) and again in 1973–74. In 1975 Diss won the Norfolk Senior Cup, beating St Andrews 3–2 at Carrow Road. In 1975–76 they finished as league runners up and league cup winners. In 1976–77 they won the Premier Division, and won it again in 1978–79. In 1980 and 1982 the club won the league cup again. During the 1983–84 season Diss moved to a new ground at Brewers Green Lane, and in 1988 became founder members of Division One of the Eastern Counties League. After finishing third, sixth and fourth, they won Division One in 1991–92 and were promoted to the Premier Division. In 1993-94 the club won the FA Vase in front of a crowd of 13,450 at Wembley, beating Taunton Town 2–1 after extra time, following an injury time equaliser.

The journey by train was made from Cheshunt via Cambridge and Norwich. I used a discounted (£5:00) rail voucher (thanks again Martin). On arrival at Diss, the opportunity was taken to explore the magnificent town centre. From the railway station it takes around 15 minutes to walk and it is worth the effort. Many of the buildings are from a bygone era and very few are of similar design in respect of both size and shape. The central feature of the town is a picturesque mere, which attracts wildlife and visitors. The street and roads fit in with the fine quirky buildings, one of which is the Saracens Head public house. In order to satisfy both curiosity and thirst at the same time, this Pieman entered this established enjoying Adnam’s Ghost Ship and Woodforde’s Wherry, along with a super meal of haddock (from Lowestoft), chips and peas.

The walk from the centre to the football ground takes a little over ten minutes along a pleasant residential road. Brewers Green Lane is not paved in the lead up to the ground but this is only for a short distance and it is not long before you reach the car park and the entrance. The entry turnstile is located at the far left of the car park and a friendly welcome was enjoyed on entry. The majority of the club buildings are situated on the side. There appears to be a club shop in a cabin, but this structure was in use as additional changing facilities during the pandemic.

The main club house building is modern in appearance and contains changing facilities and a spacious bar and refreshment area. Almost adjacent is the covered seated main stand where the steep steps offer an exceptionally good vantage point to view the match. On a blustery day this was my refuge for the match. The oxtail soup went down a treat too. For almost the full length of the area behind one of the goal is another covered area containing a couple of steps of shall terracing. The opposite end of the ground offers no additional spectator facilities and backs onto residential housing.

The remaining side of the ground boasts another smaller covered structure, which was out of bounds today due to the restrictions. Some very tall trees are decent protection from adverse weather and also assist in keeping footballs within the ground. This match saw visitors March Town United look to continue their good run of form this season (18 points from 7 matches) against a home side that had won all of their midweek matches but had failed to win on a Saturday! The first half an hour saw neither side play particularly well on what could be described as a bobbly pitch, but by the break, March had started to show why they were sitting third in the table and had created a few chances.

The visitors continued their improving form in the second period and a brace from striker Jack Friend proved to be enough for March Town United to take the three points back to Fenland. It was only after they conceded the second goal that Diss played their best football of the match and seemed to grow in confidence, almost scoring on a couple of occasions. The walk back to the station was followed by decent connections to Norwich, Cambridge North and ultimately Cheshunt. Diss is a lovely place to visit – Phil Tuson was spot on about that. 

 



Attendance: 119
Admission: £6:00
Programme: £1:50 (28 pages)
Tea: £1:00
Oxtail Soup: £1:00
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Kirkley & Pakefield FC

 Kirkley & Pakefield 4 Long Melford 3 - Eastern Counties League, Premier Division

 

Kirkley is a district within the town of Lowestoft in Suffolk. It is located south of the centre of Lowestoft and the town's Bascule Bridge and north of Pakefield and Kessingland. Kirkley was originally an independent village and still retains its old fashioned village feel by the seaside but after centuries of urban sprawl and development of the harbour area, is now part of the urban conurbation of Lowestoft. Kirkley is also the site of Britten House, a large Victorian house in Kirkley Cliff Road where the composer Benjamin Britten was born in 1913. Pakefield is a village, located around 2 miles south of the centre of the town of Lowestoft. Bloodmoor Hill, between Pakefield and Carlton Colville, was the site of settlement in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and the 7th and 8th centuries. In the Doomsday book Pakefield is called "Pagefella", the name probably coming from the Pagan settlement name of Pagga's or Pacca's field. Pakefield later developed as a fishing community. The former terminus of the Tram Service from Lowestoft is located in the centre of Pakefield and is now the site of the Tramway Hotel.

The modern Kirkley FC came into being in 1975 when Anglian Combination club Brooke Marine, who were linked to the Brooke Marine shipbuilders and playing at the Kirkley Recreation Ground on Walmer Road, applied to change their name to Kirkley Football Club. As the name was owned by Lowestoft Town, the club had to take the name Kirkley United in 1978. Under the new name they were Division Two champions in 1978–79, earning promotion to Division One. The following season the club won Division One and was promoted to the Premier Division. However, after finishing second-from-bottom of the Premier Division in 1983–84 they were relegated back to Division One. After winning the Division One title in 1988–89 the club returned to the Premier Division. Kirkley were Premier Division champions in 1999–2000 and won the Suffolk Senior Cup the following season. In 2001–02 they claimed a treble, winning the Premier Division title, the league's Senior Knock-out Cup, and the Suffolk Senior Cup again, beating Haverhill Rovers 4–3 after extra time. In 2002–03 they won the Premier Division title for a third time in four years, and were promoted to Division One of the Eastern Counties League. The club were promoted to the Premier Division after finishing third in Division One in 2004–05. In 2007 the club merged with Pakefield Football Club, adopting the current name.

The journey by train was made from Cheshunt via Cambridge and Norwich. I used a discounted (£5:00) rail voucher (thanks again Martin). Immediately opposite Lowestoft Station is The Joseph Conrad (JD Wetherspoon). At this establishment, this Pieman enjoyed a couple of pints of Encore from the local (Great Yarmouth) Lacon’s Brewery (3.8%). This award winning Amber Ale was just the right accompaniment for the fish and chips, which went down a treat after the long journey.

To reach Walmer Road on foot from the railway station takes around 35-40 minutes and much of the route is one straight road. I was informed that the stations at Oulton Broad are slightly nearer, but using Lowestoft Station provides options of travelling via Ipswich or Norwich, rather than one or the other. The ground is part of the larger Kirkley Community Sports and Social Club and you pass other pitches as you approach the main ground.

My immediate impression on entering was of a well-run community club. This was reinforced as the afternoon progressed. The clubhouse has recently been refurbished and is smart with a mixture of functional and comfortable seating. There are numerous TV screens and the Merseyside derby was being shown at the time. Opposite the clubhouse on the far side of the pitch is a covered seated stand. Behind one of the goals is a wooden covered area, which was populated more in the second half when the home side was attacking that end. There is a separate building containing the changing rooms and I believe this facility also serves the outer pitches. Adjacent to this is another covered area for spectators.

Prior to the match, the home side had won five of their nine matches and were 3rd in the table. Long Melford were next to bottom with one point from 4 matches. However, it was the visitors that impressed during the first period and were a constant threat going forward. It was a surprise when the hosts took the lead with a well-taken strike. Long Melford did well to rally and deservedly were level at the break.

The second half saw a much better display from the home side and with both sides looking to attack a very lively contest ensued. It was hard to predict who would score as things evened out. Each time Kirkley & Pakefield scored, Long Melford came back. At 3-3 I felt we had the right result only for the hosts to snatch the points near the end. The result was harsh on Long Melford, as they are clearly a far better team than their current position suggests. The previous Tuesday, the home side had won 4-3 and this result was repeated today. An enjoyable sunny autumn day at the coast!

 




 
Attendance: 81
Admission: £7:00
Programme: £1:00 (28 pages)
Tea: £1:0
Golden Goal: £1:00 (I had 88 minutes - no chance in this match!)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Gorleston FC

Gorleston 3 Downham Town 2 - FA Vase, 2nd Qualifying Round

Gorleston-on-Sea is a town in Norfolk, to the south of Great Yarmouth. Situated at the mouth of the River Yare, it was a port town at the time of the Doomsday Book. The port then became a centre of fishing for herring along with salt pans used for the production of salt to preserve the fish. In Edwardian times the fishing industry rapidly declined and the town's role changed to that of a seaside resort. Historically the town was in the county of Suffolk. In the Middle Ages it had two manors, and a small manor called Bacons. In 1832, it became a part of Great Yarmouth for electoral purposes. Finally in 1835 it merged with the town and became part of Great Yarmouth in the county of Norfolk. Two railway stations once served the town. Both were on the coastal line which joined Great Yarmouth with Lowestoft - Gorleston-on-Sea closed in 1970 whilst its neighbour, Gorleston North closed in 1942. In the Great Storm of 1987, Gorleston experienced the highest wind speed recorded in the UK on that day, which was 122 mph. 

 

The football club was established on 27 September 1887 by members of Gorleston Cricket Club looking for a winter pastime, and was initially nicknamed the "Cards", playing in crimson shirts and blue shorts. The first competitive match was a game against Beccles Caxton in the Suffolk Senior Cup. In 1935 Gorleston FC was a founder member of the Eastern Counties League. Their final trophy before World War II was the Senior Cup in 1937–38, beating local rivals Great Yarmouth Town 3–0. After the war, the club won the Senior Cup again in 1951. In 1951–52 the club reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time, and were drawn against Leyton Orient. After a 2–2 draw at Brisbane Road and a 0–0 draw at the Recreation Ground (at which the club's record attendance of 4,473 was set), a second replay was held at Arsenal Stadium (Highbury), resulting in a 5–4 win for Leyton Orient, with Gorleston having been 4–1 down at one point in the match. In 1983 the club left their former Recreation Ground base to move to Emerald Park. In November 2019 the club revealed plans to move to a new ground on the site of East Norfolk Sixth Form College on Church Lane.

The journey by train was made from Cheshunt via London Liverpool Street and Norwich. I used a discounted rail voucher resulting in a return fare of £5:00 (thanks again Martin). On arrival at Great Yarmouth, I headed straight for The Troll Cart (J D Wetherspoon) taking advantage of the large breakfast and a couple of decent guest ales. This establishment is adjacent to bus station and a number of regular services run to Gorleston from there. The most frequent being route 8 which also serves Caister in the other direction. The journey across the River and along to Gorleston takes around 25 minutes, route 8 takes you to within 5 minutes walk of the ground.

On arrival at the ground, there was an immediate welcome from the gentlemen manning the entrance. I was able to explore the ground and even given permission to go onto the pitch. Emerald Park is a superb venue and has cover on three sides of the ground. Step terracing is complemented with rows of seating along one side. My initial thoughts were that this venue is better than many playing at higher level. The fully enclosed ground is part of a much wider green field expanse with other football pitches and recreational facilities. I was told that when the club relocate, a total of 97 houses would be built on the site.

 

I was also informed that the new ground would have a 4G surface. The new place will be functional and efficient, but it will take a lot for it to get anywhere near Emerald Park in terms of charms and quirky character. Along the main side of the pitch are a collection of buildings including the changing rooms, clubhouses and turnstile area. I guess that this collection has emerged over the years and represents a lot in terms of the history of the club. I also got the impression that there is a real club spirit at Gorleston with everyone pulling together to do their bit.

This FA Vase encounter with Downham Town would be settled on the day, if necessary, by penalties. The visitors were on a good run of form and although a dour first half ended goalless, it was they that had looked the more likely to break the deadlock. Seven minutes into a lively second half, Downham took the lead through Ryan Pearson. Another goal for the visitors may well have put the game out of reach for Gorleston. However, it was the hosts that sprung into life with their best movement of the match when Chris Henderson equalised. Surprisingly, Downham took the lead again through Joe Jackson (whilst down to ten men temporarily as a result of a player being sent to the sin bin).

Substitute Marcus Dunthorne-McInerney scored a second leveller for Gorleston in the 87th minute, before Henderson grabbed his second and the winning goal to send Gorleston into the next round. The result was harsh on Downham Town who for most of the match did not look like a team from a lower division. They certainly did not deserve to be beaten. However, goals win football matches and Gorleston scored three from what I believe were their only direct attempts on goal! I’m so glad I managed to visit this wonderful ground!


 


Attendance: 168
Admission: £6:00
Programme: £1:50 (32 pages)
Tea: £1:0








Saturday, October 03, 2020

Great Yarmouth Town FC

Great Yarmouth Town 2 Framlingham Town 1 - Eastern Counties League, Division One North

 

Great Yarmouth is a seaside resort and minster town in Norfolk, straddling the River Yare, some 20 miles east of Norwich. Its fishing industry, mainly for herring, fell steeply after the mid-20th century and has all but vanished. North Sea oil from the 1960s brought an oil rig supply industry that now services offshore natural gas rigs. More recent offshore wind power and other renewable energy have created further support services. Great Yarmouth has been a seaside resort since 1760 and a gateway from the Norfolk Broads to the North Sea. Tourism was boosted when a railway opened in 1844, which gave visitors easier, cheaper access and triggered some settlement. Wellington Pier opened in 1854 and Britannia Pier in 1858. In 1797, during the French Revolutionary Wars, the town was the main supply base for the North Sea Fleet. The fleet collected at the roadstead, from whence it sailed to the decisive Battle of Camperdown against the Dutch fleet. Great Yarmouth railway station is the terminus of the Wherry Lines from Norwich. Before the Beeching cuts the town had a number of railway stations and a direct link to London down the East Coast. 
 
 
The Football club was established on 20 July 1897, taking most of their players from two local clubs, Yarmouth Fearnoughts and Yarmouth Royal Artillery, which between them, had won the Norfolk Senior Cup for the previous four years running. The new club were founder members of the Norfolk & Suffolk League in 1897 and in their first season won the Norfolk Senior Cup, beating Lynn Town 4–3 in a replay after a 0–0 draw in the first match. They won the cup again in 1901–02 and retained it in each of the next four seasons, each time defeating Lynn Town in the final. In 1935 the club was a founder member of the Eastern Counties League and won the League Cup in 1938. In the 1947–48 season the club reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time, losing 4–1 at home to Shrewsbury Town in front of a crowd of 4,160. In 1951–52 the club won the East Anglian Cup and the following season saw them reach the FA Cup first round again, beating Guildford City 1–0 in a replay after a 2–2 draw. This was followed by a 4–1 defeat at home to Wrexham in front of an attendance of 6,963. The club reached the second round again the following season, beating Crystal Palace 1–0 before a record crowd of 8,944, before losing 5–2 at Barrow.
 

The journey by train was made from Cheshunt via Cambridge and Norwich. I used a discounted rail voucher resulting in a return fare of £5:00 (thanks again Martin). On arrival at Great Yarmouth, I headed straight for the Wellesley Recreation Ground (takes around twenty minutes) and was able to take some photographs of this delightful venue before heading off for some refreshment. Due to the combination of rain that was with us most of the day, Covid19 and it being off-season there were a lot of establishments not trading along the sea front. The option was taken therefore to head towards the centre.


Some earlier research had planted the seed of visiting the Tombstone Saloon Bar and Brewery. This fine micro pub on George Street did not disappoint and was a welcome retreat. This Pieman delighted in a pint of Tombstone Arizona (3.9%) which fits the “amber, malty, hoppy with a touch of citrus” description. I then opted for a pint of Red at Night (4.5%) from the Star Wing Brewery at Redgrave in Suffolk. Another lovely beer and if I was not on football duty and pretending to be a journalist, I may have stayed longer at this fine establishment. Should I return to Great Yarmouth, I will certainly pay another visit!
 

The recently installed NHS app on my phone was working better than anticipated. I had used this at the Tombstone Saloon Bar and again on admission to the football ground. There are pay entrance booths at both corners of ground along the main stand side, one of which serves those parking within the confines of the venue. The blue plaque affixed to the Victorian grandstand states that it is thought to be the oldest surviving in England. I took the opportunity to sit in the stand for a while before the match but like the long covered terrace running the full length of the pitch on the opposite side, there are many pillars restricting the view. Accordingly, my viewing of the match was from the front step of the terrace. A tea bar and a clubhouse are contained in separate structures along with a fairly modern looking toilet block.

Although the ground also contains a running track and the usual athletics field event furniture, it is possible to get a good view of the match from the terrace side. This encounter with Framlingham Town ebbed and flowed throughout and was certainly good value for this neutral. The home side’s first goal was direct from a Declan McAvoy corner. This was cancelled out when Josh Tysoe levelled on 24 minutes. A triple substitution by the home side during the second half was followed by Fionn Goodwin-Wright (one of those subs) giving the home side the lead. Some fine goalkeeping from Elvijs Putnins ensured all three points for Great Yarmouth Town. I was particularly impressed with the award winning match programme.



Having missed out on fish and chips before the match, it was good to remedy this en-route to the railway station. Large cod and chips – why not? “We are at the seaside!” The 17:17 train was ignored in favour of the 17:47. This had no impact on the subsequent journey as it would be the same connection to Cambridge. Once again, all trains ran to time and another long day out was enjoyed. My earlier concerns over the weather were unfounded, as there was never an issue with the playing surface at Great Yarmouth.
 


 
Attendance: 113
Admission: £6:00
Programme: £1:50 (44 pages)
Tea: £1:0
 
 
 
 
 
 
 






Saturday, September 26, 2020

Coggeshall Town FC

Coggeshall Town 2 Heybridge Swifts 0 -  Isthmian League, North Division

Coggeshall is a small town in Essex, between Colchester and Braintree on the Roman road of Stane Street, and intersected by the River Blackwater. Although Coggeshall has a market and is a market town, the vast majority of the residents, some of whom are third or fourth generation of Coggeshall, insist on referring to it as a village. It is known for its almost 300 listed buildings and formerly extensive antique trade. Many local businesses, such as the White Hart Hotel and the Chapel Inn, have been established for hundreds of years (the Chapel Inn became legally licensed in 1554). The modern history of Coggeshall begins around 1140 when King Stephen and his queen Matilda founded Coggeshall Abbey, a large Savigniac abbey with 12 monks from Savigny in France. The town clock was built to celebrate Queen Victoria's jubilee in 1887 and the clockhouse was at one point a school for the poor children of the town.
 
 
 

The football club was established on 27 September 1878 by J.K. King (a seed company) following a meeting at the White Hart Hotel, with many of the King family and company employees being keen footballers. After losing the final of the Essex Junior Cup in 1899, they joined the North Essex League, going on to win the league four times. The club then joined the Colchester & District League and in 1911 the league merged into the Essex & Suffolk Border League. The club were Division II B runners-up in 1926–27. After spells in local leagues the club returned to the Essex & Suffolk Border League in 1959 and won Division One in 1962–63. Subsequent spells in the Essex Senior League, Essex Intermediate League, Essex & Suffolk Border League and the Eastern Counties League eventually resulted in promotion to the Isthmian League in 2018.
 
 
Coggeshall is not the easiest destination to reach by public transport. There is an hourly bus service from either Braintree or Marks Tey which would connect with train services from London Liverpool Street. However, I opted to get the train to Kelveden which is a little over 3 miles from Coggeshall. The walk took around 35 minutes, which was good considering that for much of the route there were no footpaths! A combination of stepping on to the verge or walking along the side of agricultural fields  eventually saw me reach neighbouring Coggeshall Hamlet where the footpaths resume. You then realise you are nearing your destination as the previous Coggeshall Road has become Kelveden Road.


Upon arrival at Coggeshall, I was immediately struck by how nice the place is. The abundance of old buildings oozing charm and history help to paint a picture of the days when it was that ‘market town’. I headed straight for West Street to take some photographs, then took the opportunity to visit the Chapel Inn which a club official had recommended to me. With sensible Covid arrangements in place I enjoyed an excellent pint of the reliable Timothy Taylor Landlord followed by a decent pint of Gale’s Seafarers.
 

The football ground is a five-minute stroll from the centre of town and is on the left-hand side of the road heading towards Braintree. It is obvious to see the history of the place when looking at the covered seated stand, which is still in very good condition. The other outstanding feature for me was the playing surface. Whoever is responsible for its upkeep is doing a fine job. The pitch is at a lower level than the surrounds on one side, dictated by the slope of the location. The levelling whenever that was completed was also a fine achievement.
 
 
Apart from the seated stand, there is also cover behind the goal at the clubhouse end of the ground. The separate changing rooms (another old structure) are housed in the corner of the ground and the turnstile in the other corner along the same side. The uncovered end of the ground backs on to the car park. The steak pie purchased from the refreshment hatch of the clubhouse must rank as one of the best I have ever sampled at a football match. Packed with meat, this locally supplied delight had no room for anything else. Some equally tempting sausage rolls were also selling well.

This all Essex encounter was a slow burner with little between the sides at the break. However, Jack Baker’s volley shortly after the restart to give the hosts the lead was just what the match needed. The points were secured when Matt Price hit a thirty-yard free kick into the bottom left corner of the goal. My walk back to Kelveden Station was a tad slower than before, but I was still there twenty-five minutes before the 18:01 London Liverpool Street service. I would not be keen to walk the route in the darker hours, as the mix of rural Essex and pretty cottages does not mix with pedestrian safety.
 
 

 


Attendance: 151
Admission: £10:00
Programme: £1:50 (32 pages)
Steak Pie: £3:50 (worth every penny)