Saturday, 13 August 2016

Swaffham Town - The Pavillion

Swaffham Town FC
The Pavillion
Shoemakers Lane
PE37 7NS

01760 722700

Ground Number: 606
Friday 12th August 2016
Swaffham Town 0-2 Thetford Town
Eastern Counties Premier


Swaffham Town were founded in 1892, making them one of Norfolk's oldest clubs. After playing in local leagues, such as the Anglian Combination, they joined the Eastern Counties League in 1990. They have spent the vast majority of their time here in its second tier. They found things tough at first, but by 2001 were Champions, entitling them to promotion to the Premier Division. Their stay only lasted one season however as they finished bottom, some 16 points adrift of safety. It was another one season stay in 2007/08, though at least this time, they took it to the last day of the season, Histon's reserve side staying up at their expense. Promotion was achieved again in 2015 and last season marked a watershed as they survived in the higher tier. This was due to the ECL expanding the Premier Division, with them finishing third from bottom in 18th place.

The FA Cup has not been a happy hunting ground, with only one win out of five. This came in 2013/14 as they beat Wisbech Town 2-1, only to suffer a 2-0 defeat to Huntingdon Town in the Preliminary Round. The trend continued this season, with them losing 4-1 to Lincolnshire outfit Holbeach United last Saturday. The FA Vase has seen moderate success with 1996/97 seeing them reach the 2nd Round, only to lose to Saffron Walden Town after a replay. In terms of local competitions, Swaffham Town have won the Norfolk Junior Cup twice and the Bob Tuttle Memorial Trophy on 3 occasions.

The town of Swaffham has history in sheep and wool, and is an old English market town. The club's nickname of 'The Pedlars' derives from an old English folk tale called 'The Alchemist' about a local Pedlar who dreamt he would be rich if he went to London Bridge. One man from the town who most certainly did get rich was lottery winner Michael Carroll who won nearly £10 million on the lottery in 2002, He was dubbed 'The Lotto Lout' by certain sections of the press, and no doubt to their delight was almost broke four years later. Other than him, broadcaster and writer Steven Fry is the most famous name to have been born in Swaffham.


I'd arranged this game with Chris, a fellow groundhopper, a week before the event. It was to be our first game of the season together as he had been unavilable for the early part of the season. On the day of the game I had another easy day at work, finishing at 11am, before getting petrol and going home. I had a bath and some luch, but still had a couple of hours to kill. I used it by starting tonight's blog, plus looking at my options for next week in the FA Cup, of which there are 56 potential new grounds and a few revisits. I left home at 3PM, making my way over to Milton Keynes to meet Chris. It was over 30 degrees when I left,  so I was glad of my air conditioning. I got to Milton Keynes around 5 minutes before our meeting time of 4, so I had time to reply to a couple of messages on my phone. The journey over there was a pain with diversions,  accidents,  tractors,  level crossings and general rush hour traffic adding an hour to our journey.

We eventually got to the ground at 6.30, looking for a drink.  In the Red Lion we both had a pint of Westons Rosie's Pig Old Banger which was a new one for me. We were both peckish by now, so it was over to the Hong Kong House Chinese takeaway where I had Chicken Satay Skewers and Chips which I eat on the way to the ground. They were absolutely delicious and one of the nicest Chinese takeaways I have had. Portions were huge too,  it takes a lot to make me full up,  but I was well and truly stuffed. It was around a 10-minute walk back to the ground from there,  with us getting back at 7.30. Entry was £5 and programmes were available for a donation so I gave £1. It wasn't long until kick off,  giving me just enough time to get some pictures of the ground before kick-off.

The game started with Thetford well on top and their dominance told when they took the lead on 6 minutes as a Thetford man broke free inside the area and fired into the top right-hand side of the goal. The visitors continued to pressurise and it took a number of last-ditch clearances to stop them adding to their tally. True to form,  shortly after the restart Thetford made it 2-0 although I didn't have the best of views being up the other end of the ground. That was how it stayed until the end and the result was fully justified as Swaffham were restricted to a few scraps on the break and were well beaten on the night.

It was a shame for such a nice club, and it had been a good evening. The time had come to go home though, so I punched Milton Keynes into the Sat Nav and soon enough we were on our way. It was a pretty straightforward journey home, with no road closures thankfully. I dropped Chris off at 11.20, getting home myself just after midnight. I had a couple of drinks while catching up online and watching Coronation Street. Next up was a big game personally. Wycombe Wanderers v Grimsby Town may seem like a run of the mill league fixture to most, but I have many friends amongst the Mariners faithful. I first met a couple of their fans at Telford in 2012, getting on really well and since then it has spiralled, and I've got to know around 50 fans of the Lincolnshire based club.


THE PAVILLION is located near the town centre in Swaffham, which has plenty of decent places to eat and drink. Drinking wise, The Red Lion was decent with a real cider and The Hong Kong House was one of the best Chinese Takeaways I have been to. Back at the ground, there was a decent selection of food and a typical clubhouse bar, though Chris did have to wait 20 minutes for his cheesy chips.

As for the ground itself, it's anything but bland, which makes a nice change. The collection of small areas of cover are all at one end of the ground and are more than enough for the size of crowds that Swaffham get. It was a long way for me, but well worth it. A good value evening and I was made to feel very welcome, it's just a shame that the hosts couldn't win on the night.

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