Thursday, 15 November 2012

Leamington - New Windmill Ground


Leamington FC
The New Windmill Ground
Harbury Lane
Bishops Tachbrook
Leamington Spa
Warwickshire
CV33 9QB

01926 430406


Matchday Number: 225
Tuesday 13th November 2012
Leamington 2-1 Kettering Town
Southern League Premier Division

Originally on this date, I was planning to go to Biggleswade Town v Slough Town in the Southern League Division 1 Central, mainly as I had a few mates in Biggleswade that I fancied catching up with. But that was called off owing to Slough getting a shock FA Cup replay at Mansfield, a team challenging near the top of the league 3 divisions higher. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I had started going to games with my mate Anwar, who lived in Aylesbury. So I was looking for games that meant I took a route through there. There were 3 options: North Leigh v Tiverton Town, Arlesey v Bashley and Leamington v Kettering Town. I couldn't decide from the 3, so left it up to Anwar who plumped for Leamington. There was a late contender in Hinckley United v Gainsborough Trinity, which was an FA Trophy replay, but Anwar had his heart set on Leamington, and it was a bit nearer, so we settled for that one.



As with most Tuesdays, I had the day off work. So I spent the day relaxing, going down to Wycombe and posting some stuff at the local post office. I had arranged to meet Anwar at 5.15. I left home at 4 as I needed to nip into the garage to sort out a problem with my headlight and the petrol station to fill up. I got to Aylesbury at 5.20 and after a fairly easy journey, first cross country and then on the M40, we got there at 6.35 and went straight in.

Kettering Town were the night's visitors and had undergone severe financial difficulties during the course of the season, thanks to some bad owners. They had already been exiled from their home by one owner, Imran Ladak and had been moved to Rushden and Diamonds' old Nene Park Ground. The writing was on the wall when another dodgy owner, George Rolls had come in over the summer, however his takeover never got fully completed, due to him facing a huge amount of FA charges relating to betting whilst owner of his previous clubs, Weymouth and Cambridge United. They had spent the previous season in the Blue Square Premier, having a torrid time after losing players due to being unable to pay them. This resulted in them going into a CVA at the end of the season, meaning a 'double relegation' to the Southern League Premier Division. This season had not been much better. Already they had had to field 10 players from the start of the game against Bashley, one of them being the second choice keeper. They lost 7-0. And from Saturday they were forced to play at Corby Town's Steel Park ground, due to the high running costs of playing at Nene Park in Rushden. They had however shown improvement in recent weeks, though the were still bottom on -5 points owing to a deduction due to more financial irregularities. And they were still yet to win.


After paying £9 to get in and £2 for a programme, we had a quick look around the club shop, picking up a free fanzine, sadly they had no pennants though. After getting some chips, we found out that the programme shop would not be open till later, so we went for a drink in their smart looking bar. I had a pint of Stowford Press cider, one that I have had several times before, but not for a while. I enjoyed it and it was £3.10 well spent. After sitting in the warm and checking Facebook and replying to messages, I went out and took some pictures of the ground, working my way around the ground until I reached the programme shop that was now open. It turned out to be one of the best I have been to, fairly small in size, but full of great stock at good value prices. I got 3 books, a whole load of fanzines, plus a Merthyr Tydfil pennant and keyring for £3.80 - bargain! By now the ground was filling up. So after getting some more chips - this time with some of the nicest curry sauce I have tasted, we took a decent spot along the side, in a crowd which turned out to be 420, a decent turn out for midweek in the Southern Premier. Leamington had always got fantastic attendances, for one game in the Midland Combination Division 2 (that's step 7 of non league, or 11 overall) they pulled in 1200 for that game when 3 figure attendances for that level are very rare.


During the warm up, I was amused to spot that the Kettering keeper Yannick Nlate looked a bit like Mr T from the A-Team. The Leamington fans agreed and were singing the theme tune all night, amongst other songs. They were pretty vocal, but I didn't hear much from the Kettering fans. You can read a copy of the Leamington match report here but to sum it up.... It was a decent game. Kettering were a team of youngsters hastily thrown together, following yet more player losses. And they gave a pretty good account of themselves. They started slightly the brighter side and took the lead early on. However it was all square at the break. Leamington were the better side during the second half, perhaps due to Kettering tiring. And it was the home side that won 2-1, though in truth it could have been more, despite a brave resistance from Kettering, their keeper making several good saves.

So another enjoyable footballing night in good company. On the way home we wanted to listen to the Slough v Mansfield game which had gone to extra time. But we were too far north to pick up BBC Radio Berkshire. So we made do with the Lincoln v Walsall match which finished 3-2 to Lincoln after extra time. After much searching we finally got the game in it's final stages before hearing the disappointing news that Slough lost on penalties. After dropping Anwar off just before 11, I was back in at 11.15. I watched a bit of TV before going to bed, my mind planning where our next game would be.

THE NEW WINDMILL GROUND has been Leamington's home since 2001. It's a modern ground, but fairly basic, having been improved over the years to meet criteria for the level they are playing at. They started off life at this ground in the 2nd Division of the Midland Combination, rising up 4 leagues to their current standing in the Southern League Premier Division. A fantastic feat, but made a bit easier thanks to their fantastic support that reached well into 4 figures at a level where 3 figure attendances are noteworthy. I had previously visited the ground on the way to a Wycombe away game, as you can tell from the daylight and different sponsor signs in some of the photos.

The bar was really bright and flash, with lots of shirts on the walls and a big screen TV. They also do their own beer - Brakes Fluid. Prices are reasonable too


The tea bar is also good, they have a really well stocked sweet shop, as well as a good range of hot food.



The programme shop is my favourite feature, having a great selection of books, programmes, fanzines and other random stuff. The person who runs it, Craig, is a regular poster on Tony's Non League Forum There is also a club shop for your club merchandise.


At the time of my first visit, there was cover on 2 sides - seating along the side and covered terracing behind one goal. On todays visit however, the capacity had risen to 2300. There was additional seating along one side, with 2 new stands along the side, one covered, one uncovered. And larger terraces behind each goal.














3 comments:

  1. thanks for that, a very fair and pleasant review of our club

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  2. Good article, some of the photos were taken a few years back though weren't they!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, unsure when, think it was when you were in Southern League Central, sponsored by British Gas

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