Pewsey Vale FC
The Recreation Ground
Ground Number: 578
Tuesday 12th April 2016
Pewsey Vale 0-3 Ringwood Town
Wessex League D1
I was on my own for groundhopping this Tuesday and was looking for something local after a pricey trip to York on Saturday. The ideal opportunity cropped up as Bovingdon were at home, with a 6.30 kick off. Despite a small band of rain scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, in no way did I think that the game would be off and was looking forward to a local cheap trip and a nice early night on a Tuesday for once. However this season's postponements list had held more surprises than 'Dodgy Dave's' tax affairs and I was left doing some last minute scrabbling around to find a game.
PEWSEY VALE were formed in 1945, adopting their current name a couple of years into their history. They are at a little bit of a geographical crossroads in terms of league placement and so have moved competitions quite often. After spending their early days in local Wiltshire leagues they joined the Western League in 1993, having their best ever finish in their first season in Division 1. They switched to the Hellenic League D1 West in 2001 seeing an immediate success in their first season as they finished runners-up to Hook Norton to earn promotion to the Hellenic Premier. They spent 3 seasons struggling at step 5 before eventually succumbing to relegation in 2005 after their best ever placing of 18th in their first season. Things slightly improved back in Division 1 West but by 2009 they had finished bottom and returned to the Wiltshire League for a season. Since 2010 they have been in the Wessex League D1, with their best ever finish of 4th coming in their first season. They are not doing great this season, sitting well adrift of safety in 17th place, though they may be saved from relegation by lack of applicants from lower leagues.
In the FA Cup there has not been much cheer. They didn't play in the competition for over 60 years between 1950 and 2011, and their only victory in recent times came with an away win at Bournemouth in 2012 with their record progress being the 1st Qualifying Round back in the 1940s. Moderate success has been had in the FA Vase with a number of 1st Round appearances in the 1st Round. Local cup successes include the Wiltshire Senior Cup twice and the Wiltshire League Cup in 2010. Current Crewe Alexandra defender Jon Guthrie came through the Pewsey Vale youth ranks and since joining Crewe in 2012 he has gone on to make 84 appearances for the football league side. His shirt hangs on the wall in the clubhouse to commemorate this. Another famous footballer has links to the village - former Spurs keeper Ian Walker lives there.
It was the usual Tuesday ritual of my only decent night's sleep, followed by a walk down town. I was confident that my game would go ahead despite a brief deluge around lunchtime but at 3.45 Bovingdon tweeted the bad news that the game was off. I was scrabbling round to find an alternative but as a groundhopper that had done a fair bit I was left with little choice. Carterton was my nearest at 60 miles away and they were offering free entry, so I tweeted them. I also went on my Groundhopper app and deduced that my second nearest unticked ground was at Pewsey Vale, so I made contact with them too. The problem with local non league teams is that everything is run by volunteers and they of course have their own day jobs. However just before 4.30 Pewsey Vale gave a positive response and having seen that I would have a chance of a decent pre match pint there, I decided to go there. I hadn't been intending to drink but with a longer journey than expected and a diversion into cider country it would be rude not to.
I got all my things together and left pretty much straight away. I'd only been planning on a short trip so I had to get some petrol at ASDA en route. I got a reply from Carterton saying game on and with their game being free entry and 10 miles nearer I briefly considered going there. But with plenty of time to kill and me telling Pewsey I was on my way, I stuck to my original plan. The journey was decent once I'd passed the rush hour traffic of High Wycombe and the end of the route was very scenic and pleasant though horses and narrow roads slowed my progress towards the end. I got to the ground at 6.20 and after going in to check that the pitch was OK I made my way into the village. I'd been planning on visiting a cracking looking Micro Pub called The Shed but on further investigation it was closed for the night. Instead, I went a little bit further to the Crown Inn and had a pint of Lily The Pink which was a new tick on my Untappd app even though I recall having it in Pontefract. Dinner was a choice of a Chinese chip shop or a kebab and pizza place and in the end I opted for the former, a place called Dragon Inn. The service took ages and it was more than I was used to paying but it was pretty decent, with me having pancake roll with curry sauce and chips for £4.40.
I got back to the ground with 10 minutes until kick off but with no sign of programmes or gateman. After grabbing some pictures of the ground I made my way to the far side of the pitch and stood on the halfway line between the two dugouts. Ringwood had much the better of the early stages of the game and could have had a penalty on 15 minutes when a player was felled inside the area. The visitors did take the lead on 22 minutes - a good cross was put in from the right wing and while the initial header was saved the rebound was followed up from close range to put Ringwood ahead. It was certainly preventable as even leading up to the goal the attackers had been allowed plenty of space to mount an attack. The visitors dominated the first half with Pewsey Vale restricted to the occasional counter attack. Things improved for the hosts in the second half and they had some good spells of pressure, coming close to scoring on a number of occasions. However it was the visitors who doubled their lead on the hour mark after the keeper made a hash of a cross and it was followed up on the line. The game was sealed 10 minutes from time when the Ringwood number 12 got clear of the defence and dribbled round the keeper, having missed an identical chance a minute earlier. There were other chances for the lead to be extended but in the end there were no further goals and the result was justified on the balance of play.
As I was leaving the ground I thought that my bet for the night had been blown with Reading equalising and Middlesbrough looking unlikely to get a winner. However my app on my phone announced that there had been a late goal for the Boro, scored by Adam Forshaw. This meant that I'd trousered another £50, having won £130 on bets at the weekend. It was a rare winning streak for me but I was careful not to get carried away. Elsewhere I was glad that Man City beat PSG to get to the Champions League semi final, especially for Pellegrini who has been treated so shabbily by the club. Elsewhere it was a good result for Braintree, winning 1-0 up at Grimsby. I had mates on both sides but Braintree needed the points more for their playoff push and I knew a couple of the fans that had made the long midweek trip up there. I was home by 11pm, going to bed around midnight but struggling to get any decent sleep before being up for work at 4am. As ever I caught up by having a nice nap the following afternoon.
THE RECREATION GROUND is a pretty basic ground, even for step 6. The only area of cover is around 50 seats in front of the clubhouse though this is set a fair way back from the pitch. It is a very nice place to watch football, all very tranquil. There is very limited parking at the ground and the club advise that you park at the Co-Op in the village which is probably a good idea.
The village is pretty good which is just as well as the bar at the ground is quite basic and I didn't see any food for sale. The Crown Inn is decent enough but if you go on Saturday then the Shed micro pub looks a lot more interesting. Food wise there is an Indian, Chinese/chippy and a pizza & kebab house in the town, as well as a few local shops like Spar and Co-Op. There are also quite a few other pubs that cater to most tastes, overall a decent day out.