Saturday, 17 December 2016

Thetford Town - Mundford Road

Thetford Town FC
Mundford Road
IP24 4NB

01842 766120

Ground Number: 653
Friday 16th December 2016
Thetford Town 1-1 Walsham-Le-Willows
Eastern Counties Premier


Thetford Town were formed in 1883 and played in local leagues such as the Norwich, Norfolk & Suffolk Leagues. They'd spend 2 seasons in the Eastern Counties League in the 1930s and would move there full time in 1963. Whilst it was a single tier league, they struggled generally, with a best ever finish of 5th in 1971/72. When a second tier was added in 1988 things initially looked rosy, with 9th and 2nd placed finishes in their first two seasons. However, relegation would follow in 1992, meaning relegation to Division 1. They'd say there for some considerable time, having some really tough times in the early part of the new millennium with some bottom-placed finishes. Gradually things improved and in 2012 they won promotion back to the Premier Division after finishing runners-up behind Godmanchester Rovers. They've found things tough since their return, though they have avoided relegation, despite two second-bottom placed finishes. This season has seen much-improved form and they are on course for their best ever finish since 1990 as they currently sitting 9th in the table at the time of the game

In the FA Cup, Thetford Town's best ever progress has been the 2nd Qualifying Round, which they have reached on five occasions. Both of their games in the FA Trophy have ended in defeat, although they have had a decent run in the FA Vase. Season 1990/91 saw them reach the 4th Round - beating Ipswich Wanderers, Canvey Island, Royston Town, Billericay Town and Haywards Heath Town before a disappointing 5-1 defeat away to Walthamstow Pennant. Locally they won the Suffolk Junior Cup in 1911 and the Norfolk Senior Cup in 1948 and 1991.


Once again I had my Braintree pals to thank for finding a Friday night game well in advance, in fact, we had this arranged around a month ago. It would be good to see the lads before Christmas, and amazingly Anwar, who doesn't often do Friday nights was coming from Aylesbury and so that would give me company and help out with fuel. It would also mean that he would be meeting Josh, the person who spotted the fixture for the first time, as he'd only met Maurice and Dan when he came last season. Even better he was able to leave at 3, leaving us with some scope to deal with the inevitable Friday night traffic problems that would crop up.

On the day of the game it was a fairly busy day at work, as per usual for a Friday. I was hoping to get out of the door at 12.30, but in the end my boss persuaded me to stay on for another half an hour. He might be a pain in the backside at times, but he's a fairly decent fella, so I agreed. Traffic meant that I didn't get home until 1.30, so it meant I only had an hour to get ready, get changed and have a bath. As a result I didn't leave until 2.40, meeting Anwar in Aylesbury around 3.15 thanks to some slow traffic. The M25 can be murder on Friday afternoons and although there was 20 minutes delay due to a breakdown causing a lane closure, we were still in Braintree at 4.45. Sadly the pathetic Rayne Road was as dreadful as ever and it took 25 minutes to do less than half a mile and reach Dan and Josh at B&M Bargains in the town. From there it was a couple of miles to meet Maurice and we were on our way.

It was a better trip to Thetford, with us stopping in the town along the way. Some of the roads were a bit dodgy though, with the bottom of the car scraping on the road due to the sheer weight of people in the car. For dinner I chose to go to the Wetherspoons in town, The Red Lion. It was my 120th in the chain, and there I ordered the Christmas Panini which had chicken, bacon and brie in it and came with some chips and a bottle of Hazy Hog cider. It was very good and means that I have 'ticked' all the Christmas specials that I wanted to - basically all of the unhealthy ones. From there it was a couple of miles to get to the ground. After finding a space in the small car park, we paid a very reasonable £6 including programme to get in. It was getting pretty foggy by now which affected some of the photos I took, but thankfully the game was never in danger of being called off.

The game kicked off around 5 minutes late and opened at a real pace. Both sides had chances before the visitors opened the scoring on 3 minutes. Liam Nurse delivered the corner and Ryan Gibbs was present at the back post to head home. Thetford equalised on 38 minutes and it was a lovely goal. The hosts broke and Max Melanson lobbed home from around 30 yards. The second half was not as good, but there were still chances with Thetford being the better side, having a goal ruled out for offside and forcing Walsham keeper Craig Brand into a full stretch save right at the death.

From there it was a pretty long drive home. We didn't leave until nearly 10 and then we didn't get to Braintree until 11.15, dropping Dan and Maurice off. Josh lived right out in the sticks and so it was 11.30 by the time we arrived in Finchingfield. It was then time for the long drive to Aylesbury which took longer than usual thanks to the dense fog, I dropped Anwar off at 1, getting home myself 20 minutes later. I'd been pretty tired on some of the journey and so stopped to get a can of Irn Bru to perk me up along the way. As a result I was wide awake when I got in, and stayed awake for a couple of hours. Given where I had been, it was ironic that I had a cider from the Norfolk Cider Company which was very nice. I watched Coronation Street and The Gadget Show before going to bed around 3 am. I'd been awake for 23 hours having been up for work at 4 am and so I enjoyed my sleep, not walking until around 10.30 the following morning.


MUNDFORD ROAD is a decent ground for the level, though it is three-sided owing to lack of space on the far side. All the covered accommodation is based in one stand and it's a pretty big one with a 400 capacity. The other 2 sides are open hard standing. The bar is pretty standard and didn't see much in the way of souvenirs. However, the tea bar is excellent, with a wide range of food at very competitive prices.

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