Sunday, 28 December 2014

Alresford Town - Arlebury Park



Alresford Town FC
Arlebury Park
The Avenue
Arlesford
Hants
SO24 9EP



01962 735100





Ground Number: 447

Saturday 27th December 2014
Alresford Town 2-4 Winchester City
Wessex Premier



I was originally planning a Spartan South Midlands Division 1 double for this date, with Wodson Park at 1PM and FC Broxbourne Borough at 3PM, that was when I thought Anwar would be coming with me. But then he informed me that he was going to Aylesbury FC instead, and so I thought about saving these 2 local ones for when we could do them together. It was a blessing in disguise, that I had seen, around 15 minutes earlier I had seen my friend and Fareham Town secretary Paul 'Splodge' Proctor post details of another potential double. The local between Alresford and Winchester kicked off at 12PM, and with a large range of games scheduled at 3PM, I opted for Cove v Farnham game, should it be on. My main reason for going to football on this day, was that we had family round. It wasn't that I didn't get on with them, they are all great, but our usual gatherings involve large amounts of alcohol, and with me up for work at 4am the following morning, I wanted to limit my intake, plus the fact that I had over indulged over the festive period already.


ALRESFORD TOWN were founded in 1898 as Alresford FC, but the present incarnation of the club was reformed in 1987. They joined the Hampshire League in 1990, and spent all but one season in it's various divisions. In 2004, the Wessex League expanded, and Alresford, along with many of the other clubs opted to join up. They spent 3 seasons in it's second tier before winning promotion to the Premier Division in 2007 when they finished as runners up behind Hayling United. They have stayed there ever since, and despite struggling at first, they have been runners up in the past 2 seasons. This season they were way down the table in 16th, but were well clear of relegation.


The club only started playing in the FA Cup in 2008, and equalled their best ever finish in the competition this season. They beat Christchurch after a replay, but were knocked out by Sherborne after another replay in the Preliminary Round. In the FA Vase, they got all the way to the 4th Round last season, before losing to Hallen. They had a Cup treble in the 2012-13 season, winning the Hampshire Senior Cup, the North Hants Senior Cup and the Wessex League Cup. That season also saw their record attendance of 193 achieved against Blackfield and Langley.



WINCHESTER CITY were formed in 1891, originally calling themselves Winchester Swallows FC. They have played in the Hampshire League for the most part of their history, though they have spent a few seasons in the Southern League as well. They had a best ever finish on 12th in Division 1 South in 1972, but have generally found life tough at the higher level. They had applied for promotion this season, and were doing well, sitting in 5th place, which is exactly where they finished last season, following relegation from the Southern League.

They have reached the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round on a number of occasions, but not since the 1950's. In modern times they had a great season in the competition this season, getting to the 3rd Qualifying Round before losing to Conference South side Concord  Rangers who went on to reach the 1st Round. The club won the FA Vase in 2004, when they beat AFC Sudbury in a game played at Birmingham City's St Andrews ground. They have won a number of local cups and were the first club of Terry Paine, the Southampton record appearance holder with 800 starts for the Saints.


I woke a lot later than expected, getting up at 9.20 on the day, which meant I was a bit tight for time. I had a bit of breakfast, took a shower and got my things together, before leaving at 10.10. I had tried to strike a balance between checking that the game was still on and getting there in time to get a programme. Luckily, the roads were clear and I was there before 11.30.

I parked up and went in, paying £6 entry and £1 for a programme and went and had a look around the ground. I went up to the bar and saw Paul,  a Wycombe fan who runs one of our websites and Robert, a Blackburn & Winchester fan who were both doing a bit of groundhopping for the day. I went and sat in the warm bar for a bit and checked Facebook, but didn't bother having a pint as it was only Strongbow. Later on I met a Bournemouth fan who knew someone from our independent supporters club and someone who reads (and enjoys this blog) Most of these would have had a shorter trip than me, but trumping them all by some considerable distance was my Facebook friend and fellow groundhopper Uwe who was over on one of his many trips from Germany.

The game was a very local derby with the 2 teams a few miles apart and as a result, there were plenty of players who had played for the opponents. Alresford made a lot of the early running and the game was just 2 minutes old when Dan Fox headed in a cross. They continued to press for a second, but it was Zach Glasspool who scored the next goal for Winchester as his shot went underneath the home keepers dive. It was another header that gave Alresford the lead just before halftime as Andy Turner nodded home a free kick. It looked as if Alresford would have a deserved half time lead but a low cross into the box hit the post and Winchester's Stuart Green followed up to bring his side level for a second time.


If the first half had belonged to the home side, then it was a different story for the second and I'm guessing that the half time team talk fired Winchester into action. Warren Bentley gave them the lead with a low drive soon after half time and on 70 minutes it was 4-2 as Chris Mason headed home. It could have been more to be honest, but Alresford held firm and in the end the result reflected the game. It had been an entertaining encounter and a really good advert for the Wessex League and I was hoping that my later game at Cove would be as good as this




ARLEBURY PARK is a smart venue and is an example of a council helping it's local team for once. There is only one area of cover and very nice it is too, being a 2 tiered structure. On the lower deck are some wooden benches under cover, as well as some standing. On the top there is more standing and sitting space under cover, and from the upper deck you can get a great view of the action. Both ends have hard standing while the 3rd side is fenced off, and as it is only mesh, you see plenty of local dog walkers having a sneaky free view of the action.




The bar is pretty decent, offering 3 real ales but only Strongbow on draught for cider drinkers. It's of a very decent size, especially for this level, and even with one of the biggest crowds of the season, there was still plenty of space for anyone who wanted to sit down, to do so. There was no shop unsurprisingly and no hot food that I could see, though you could get hot drinks and snacks from the shed that also doubled as a turnstile. The ground was very well kept and a nice place to watch football and with the friendly people at the club, it makes it well worth a visit.

































No comments:

Post a Comment