Wivenhoe Town FC
Broad Lane Sports Ground
Broad Lane Sports Ground
Ground Number: 569
Friday 18th March 2016
Wivenhoe Town 1-2 Halstead Town
Eastern Counties D1
Another Friday night and another football game for me - since February I'd done a Friday night game every single week - the majority of them being in the Eastern Counties League, which would again be the case tonight. The reverse fixture had kicked off my run on the 5th of February as Wivenhoe triumphed 3-2 in an entertaining game at Halstead. For most of these games I'd had the company of 2 great Braintree fans - Daniel & Maurice and the same would apply for this clash. I was unsure whether my usual hopper would be attending though - for financial reasons he has not accompanied me on as many games as I would have hoped since the turn of the year.
WIVENHOE TOWN were founded in 1925 as Wivenhoe Rangers, changing their name to the present one in 1974. Starting out in local football it was not until 1979 that they entered the semi pro game when they became founder members of the Essex Senior League. After a series of good finishes they were promoted to the Isthmian League Division 2 in 1986 after finishing runners up to Witham Town. Their rise continued with them winning the league 2 years later, then in 1990 they won Division 1 and were promoted into the Isthmian Premier. 10th in their first season was as good as it got and by 1994 they were relegated back to Division 1.Things didn't improve and they suffered a double relegation to mark a real turnaround in fortunes. They were moved to the Isthmian D1 North following the introduction of the Conference North & South. They hung around step 4 for 6 years, generally finding things tough, although they did have 2 good seasons in the Southern D1 East sandwiched in between. Relegation from the Isthmian D1 followed in 2008 and since being relegated to the Eastern Counties Premier they struggled, finally going down last season. However things are finally looking up for the first time in a while with them running away with the Eastern Counties D1 title at present.
In the FA Cup Wivenhoe Town have 2 FA Cup 4th Round appearances to their name, the most recent in 1993/94 when they lost to Enfield. The FA Trophy 3rd Round was reached in 1990/91 before a 3-0 defeat to local side Colchester United. The season before that they took Conference side Runcorn to a replay in the 2nd Round, with the home game producing their record attendance of 1,912. In the FA Vase their best finish was the 5th Round in 1982/83 where they lost to Burnham. The Essex Senior Trophy was won in 1988. For a far more detailed look at their history, the fan created site The Dragons Den is the place to go.
From there it was a short trip to pick up Maurice at 6.20 and then onto Dan's house at 6.35. We had a surprise late entrant into the groundhopping crew. Colchester fan Kieran entered the fray at the last minute, asking to be picked up at Colchester Tesco. I was happy to oblige as I'd wanted to meet for ages. We had been due to meet in November but the utter detritus that I work with decided to have a mass skive on the day of the game and I was stuck at work, unable to make it. It added an extra and unplanned delay onto the journey, but it was worth it. We got to the ground at 7.25 and going in I paid £6 for entry. I visited the club shop and got a pen for £2 plus an Eric Cantona book for £1. Pre match talk was amusing, of how Dan had earned the nickname 'Roland' at Braintree for his passing resemblance of the character in the children's TV series 'Grange Hill'
Wivenhoe fans were in fine voice on the night. Like the clash I had seen earlier this year between the same 2 sides, it was a closely fought tie. It was striker and assistant manager Ray Turner who fired Wivenhoe Town into the lead after just 5 minutes as he converted from a great through ball into the roof of the net.Halstead were awarded a penalty just before half time which was converted by Peter Warren despite the best efforts of Peter Haxell in the Wivenhoe goal who came so close to pulling off a great save. Luke Goldie-McSorley won it for the hosts in the second half with a close range finish, but Halstead didn't give up. They fought to the end, having a fair few chances, but just lacked that killer instinct.
It had been a good night with friends old and new. The trip home started off best with problems. Half of Wivenhoe closed, with an exceptionally badly signed diversion meant getting lost for 10 minutes before following the lengthy and time consuming diversion. What should have been a simple operation to drop Kieran off in Colchester turned into an expedition to Timbuktu (or so it seemed). I dropped Dan and Maurice in Braintree at around 10.40, though the road closures were not over just yet. Some of the M11 was shut off, I followed a diversion before my Sat Nav found an alternative way though Chelmsford. After stopping for petrol, I was eventually home at half past midnight. I caught up online, wrote some of my blog and watched a bit of TV before going to bed at 2am.
BROAD LANE SPORTS GROUND is a great venue for step 6 football, built with their days in the Isthmian Premier in mind. There's a 250 seater stand with decent views, although there are some supporting poles that get in the way. Behind each goal is covered with around 1000 places under cover overall while the far side of the ground is uncovered standing. There is a bar and tea bar, but I didn't use them. The club shop however is excellent with a wide range of old programmes and books, plus the usual array of souvenirs. The matchday programme is also very good. Costing just £1, it's nice and thick and has a fair bit to read in it.