The Daniels Stadium
Ground Number: 274
Friday 10th May 2013
Stamford 2-1 Chasetown
Northern Premier League: Division 1 South - Playoff Final
As the season entered it's climax, I was trying to get as many games in as possible before it all stopped. It should have all been done and dusted by now but owing to the bad weather the season had been extended, and I was going to take full advantage of it. I knew a few weeks ago that the NPL playoff finals would be this weekend, which tied in nicely with my trip to Sunderland to complete the 92 on Sunday. However this would be a trip in it's own right, as I had persuaded Anwar to tag along, this saving me staying overnight and adding even more costs in what is probably my most expensive season ever.
I had a choice of 3 games. In the Premier Division, Hednesford v FC United was out as I had been there. A trip to Cammell Laird on Merseyside would have awaited had I chosen to go to the Division 1 North final, this being over the other side of the country to Sunderland meant that it would be used as a last resort. The clear winner was Stamford, a small town between Peterborough and Lincoln. It was around 90 miles away and so not to far. And it had all the ingredients to make it a decent night. A traditional ground, a promising club shop and a pub of good repute around 15 minutes walk from the ground.
Their opponents would be Chasetown, a place with similar credentials to Stamford in terms of a day out. Their most famous day was when they appeared live on the BBC as they held Oldham Athletic to a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup. They went one better a couple of years later, managing to beat Port Vale in a replay after a 1-1 draw in the original game. Unusually, they as the 5th placed team had made it to the final, against 4th placed Stamford as they both had strong finishes to the season. The home side had no claim to fame in FA Cup History, in fact at the moment they are doing as well as they have ever done in their history, a bumped crowd was expected for this promotion tussle.
I left home at 3.15 as I wanted to pop into Aylesbury and get some deodorant and other stuff from Poundland in the town. I parked for free in Morrisons and quickly went and got my bits. By that time it was 4.20 and time to meet Anwar. We were soon on our way. It was rush hour and delays were to be expected, all in all we were held up for about 30 minutes in various places. When we got to Stamford we found a good parking space near the ground and walked into town to a nice pub called The Green Man. I had a pint of Biddenden cider at 8%, one of the strongest I have had so far. As I had to drive later and as it was around 50 minutes to kick off I decided to head off to get something to eat. We found a kebab shop that looked OK, and I had mixed tikka and chips for the reasonable price of £4.50. It was really nice too, certainly one of the better meals I have had on my travels. We got to the ground at around 7.25. After going in and getting a programme I went in the club shop, hoping to fill some gaps in my programme collection. I couldn't see anything I needed, so I settled for 4 random fanzines for a quid, giving myself something to read on the toilet! We found a good spot along the side, all in all there were 861 people at the game, which is around 3 or 4 times their usual attendance. We bumped into a Peterborough fan and chatted about various games between the clubs down the the years, and players that had played for both the Posh and Wycombe.
Soon it was time for kick off and the game had barely started when the home side took the lead. A free kick was conceded on the edge of the area and Danny Brooks smashed a shot into the top corner to give Stamford a dream start. The opening 15 minutes was a strong period of play for them and the could have had more. But it was another good goal, this time from Chasetown that made things all square - Gary Hay's curling shot was the reward for the visitors getting back into the game. Chasetown then had the better of the game up until the half time interval.
The second half was a more cagey affair and it looked to be heading to extra time, Chances were at a premium and someone was going to have to come up with something clever to get a winner, as defences were well on top. And it was Ricky Miller who got it, cutting inside before placing a curling shot into the corner. They could have had a third as well, with Chasetown looking unlikely to get back into the game.
The final whistle bought jubilant celebrations as Stamford were promoted to the Evostik Premier, and well deserved it was on this showing. For Chasetown it will be back to the drawing board, but on paper they have a team that should challenge again next year. After the game, it was a much easier journey home, with me dropping Anwar off at 11.15 and getting home myself at 11.40, keen not to stay up too late as I had an early start the following morning.
THE DANIELS STADIUM is a one of many grounds I had visited on the way to Wycombe away games, just for pictures. The ground faced an identity crisis last time out, being signed as The Vic Couzens Stadium and Wothorpe Road.
It's certainly a pleasant and traditional venue, even if both goals are open standing. The main stand holds 250 and there is covered terracing opposite that for around 300. The club shop has an excellent range of books and programmes for cheap prices, quite rare for this level of football. I didn't try the tea bar or clubhouse, but people seemed happy enough with what they had. Overall, a pleasant day out, with everything that you could wish for to make it an enjoyable experience