Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Gresley - The Moat Ground


Gresley FC
The Moat Ground
Moat Street
Church Gresley
Swadlincote
Derbyshire
DE11 9RE


01283 216315




Ground Number: 491

Tuesday 21st April 2015
Gresley 2-1 Chasetown
NPL D1 South





At out last groundhop on Friday, Anwar and I were looking at our stats and after seeing that our next groundhop would be the 100th that we had done together, we decided to go for as good as one as we could. Choice was limited, but we decided to got for as high as step as possible. With the nearest step 3 game being at Trafford, that was just a bit too far with it being located in Manchester. They would be step 4 next season anyway, so looking at that level we picked out 2 options - Tividale and Gresley, who would go on to play out a 1-1 draw the following day. After much consideration I called Gresley - mainly as I really want to get a picture with their brilliantly named mascot 'Elvis Gresley' who really is nothing but a hound dog, as the famous song goes.




After a brilliant game on Friday night with 7 goals, I was destined to see my first 0-0 when Wycombe went to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday. It was a good day out though, with a few pints in London and all of them new ciders. The less said about the game the better - it was dire, though I did at least get an article published in the AFC Wimbledon programme. Normally a point would be a good result at Kingsmeadow, especially given our poor league record against them. But with Bury winning, it meant that our quest for automatic promotion was out of our hands with both Bury and Southend having a game in hand - indeed they would play each other on the night of this Gresley game, and that would go a long way to deciding our fate.




GRESLEY FC only formed in 2009 to replace Gresley Rovers who were liquidated due to financial difficulties. They managed to keep their own ground however and this was an important launch pad for a good start to the new club. They started in the East Midlands Counties League, which is at step 6 of the non league pyramid. In their first season they finished runners up to Nottingham based side Dunkirk, but the following season saw them win the league and gain promotion to the Midland Alliance. They won that in the first season and so for the 2011/12 season took their place in the NPL D1 South. Finished of 11th and 9th in their first 2 seasons marked a good start and a gradual improvement. This season had seen further progress, and at the start of the game, they were outside the playoffs only on goal difference. A win would get them into the playoffs - indeed they could finish as high as 4th. Worst case scenario would be 7th which would still represent a good season.

Though the newly formed club had done well in the leagues, they were yet to win any cups. They had a good run to the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round in 2012/13 but lost out to Ilkeston. The club had made good progress in each of it's 3 FA Vase seasons, the best of which saw them reach the Quarter Final in 2009/10 before losing to current Conference South side Whitehawk. The FA Trophy had seen good progress too - they fought through the qualifying rounds and only went out in the 1st Round after a narrow 2-1 defeat to eventual winners Wrexham.




The previous club, Gresley Rovers had seen some great times before they went bust in 2009. Season 1996/97 had seen them Southern Premier Champions, but ground grading issues saw them denied promotion to the Conference. Derby County even offered them use of their recently vacated Baseball Ground while the required improvements were made, but this was rejected by the stubborn footballing authorities. It's staggering to think that they finished well above current Football League sides Crawley Town, Burton Albion, Cheltenham Town and Newport County that season. This saw a gradual decline in fortunes and by 1999 they were relegated to the Southern League D1 West and despite a 5th placed finish in  2002 and 2006, they never really recovered and finished 2nd bottom of the NPL D1 North in their final season of 2008/09.

The old club made good progress in the cups too. Several local competitions were won and they were FA Vase Finalists in 1991 going down 3-1 to Guiseley in a replay after an epic 4-4 draw at Wembley in the first game. The FA Trophy Quarter Final was reached in 1995/96 with them beating Accrington Stanley along the way but they lost to Macclesfield who would go on to win the Conference the following season. They also reached the FA Cup first round twice - the latest of which in 1998-99 saw them narrowly beaten by football league side Walsall. Several notable players turned out for them, the most well known of which was Kevin Hector who won the league title under Brian Clough at Derby County in the 1970's. He made 38 appearances for them between 1982 and 1984, scoring 3 goals.

With all this history involved, it was a groundhop I had been looking forward to doing for a while. Opponents Chasetown sat in 13th place and the formbook signalled a home win, though you can't take anything for granted in football. I had the day off as per usual for a Tuesday and so spent the morning jogging down town to get my hair cut. My ankle started to hurt and I hope this isn’t the same condition that stopped me jogging last year as I want to get fit. The haircut took about 90 minutes in all as there were so many people in front of me. After getting a lift home with my day, I got in and had lunch and a bath, before an hours relaxing time before I left to meet Anwar at 3.15.




I picked Anwar up as arranged at 3.45 and the journey started well enough. There were some good tunes on the radio too. As soon as it hit 5pm though everything slowed down due to the rush hour. After going a bit wrong on the route due to a dodgy postcode, we were at Morrisons for dinner by 6pm. It was 2 meals for £9 and that included a drink. I enjoyed the Chicken Tikka Massalla and Anwar had Scampi and Chips. I has a cheeky free refill on my apple juice as it was very nice.


From there it was a mile to the ground and after we parked up, it was just before 7pm when we went in. £7 was a good price for this level and so I went in the bar and had a pint of Thatchers Gold while I waited for the game to start. After that I went outside and took some pictures of the ground, which had plenty of character. I saw my brother was in the Manchester area and so I told him he could get free entry to the Bury v Southend game that would have a lot to say on whether Wycombe went up or not. I bought myself a mug for a fiver and saw a lovely pug dog that was dressed in a Gresley coat. It turned out it belonged to the teams centre back and his girlfriend. Sadly there was no Elvis Gresley around as he only normally makes it to the Saturday games.


We were hoping for a decent game for our 100th groundhop and this turned out to be the case with a real end to end game. Gresley chasing for the playoffs were the stronger side early on. Chasetown had their chances too. The home side took the lead though on 21 minutes with Alex Steadman's 23rd goal of the season. He finished after the Chasetown defenders failed to cut out a cross and he wasn't going to miss a fairly easy opportunity.  It was all square 6 minutes later, a Chasetown player was tripped just inside the area and Simon Brown scored the penalty, finishing hard and low to the keepers left. The goals for the first half and indeed the game were wrapped up when Chasetown's Francino Francis scored an unlucky own goal on 33 minutes. His passback caught the keeper out and it bounced over his head to give Gresley all 3 points.


Though there were further chances for both sides, no more goals came, despite further chances for both sides. In the end the keepers were the difference were the keepers as the Gresley custodian made several great saves and distributed the ball really well, nearly always picking out a team mate with his goal kicks. Chasetown can count themselves unlucky no to get more more from the game, but in the end, the hosts did just enough to win.


It had been a good night and with the roads appearing clear, I was hoping for a good journey home. All was going very well until we got on the A41 Bicester to Aylesbury road. We had noticed some road resurfacing going on on the way up and thought that it might be closed. However, what we were not expecting was the morons at the Highways agency not providing a diversion. With all the places being country roads and the sat nav keep wanting to take us back to the closed road, it added 9 miles and 25 minutes to the journey. We even arrived back at the road and got some directions from a workman who was equally baffled at why alternative arrangements had not been put in place. He said we were one of many lost and we saw loads of cars looking lost around the country roads due to the organisers selfishness. Eventually after making our way cross country, we reached Aylesbury around 11.50. I dropped Anwar off, arriving home myself around 20 minutes later. I wasn't tired at all so I stayed up until 2am. With me being up at 4am I was obviously tired and had a good 4 hour sleep the following afternoon.


THE MOAT GROUND is a traditional non league ground that sadly may not be around for much longer if plans for a new venue go ahead. There is plenty of cover, the biggest of which is a stand for around 300 people. There are a small number of additional seats on the other side as well as covered terracing for around another 100. The ground probably holds around 2500 in all but one side behind the goal is closed off due to lack of space.

The tea bar looked decent when I went and the bar is very good also with a decent range of drinks. There is a club shop too which sells a fair range of items as well as old books and programmes. The people at the club are really friendly and the ground is well worth a visit. The programme is also excellent, well produced and with a decent amount to read in it.

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