Cinderford Town FC
Edge Hills Road
Edge Hills Road
Ground Number: 678
Tuesday 21st March 2017
Cinderford Town 4-2 Frome Town
CINDERFORD TOWN - A BRIEF HISTORY
Cinderford Town were formed in 1922 and played in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League where they were runners-up twice and champions once. They joined the Bristol Charity League in 1939 due to the outbreak of World War 2. Upon resumption of football, the club joined the Western League, initially at Division 2 level. They were champions in 1957 and finished 10th & 11th in the following two seasons before dropping back down to the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League. For the next 30 or so years, they switched between the Gloucestershire and Midland Leagues on a regular basis, before finding a new home in the Hellenic D1 West for the 1990/91 season where they were league winners at the first time of asking, winning promotion to the Hellenic Premier. They adapted well to the higher level, never finishing below 6th prior to winning the Hellenic League Championship in 1995. This entitled them to promotion to the Southern League and up until this season, they spent their time in various regional Division 1 leagues. 2015/16 saw Cinderford Town crowned Southern League D1 South & West champions. They initially turned down promotion due to increased costs, and the whole thing became a bit of a mess with the FA forcing them to go up, and the knock-on effects were felt across the pyramid with Stamford being relegated after initially being told that they had been reprieved. Given the fact that they are operating on a much-reduced budget, it's perhaps no surprise that they are 9 points adrift at the bottom of the league. Although all is not lost, it will take a very good run for them to survive.
The FA Cup 2nd Round was reached in 1995/96. Starting in the first qualifying round they recorded several notable victories along the way, beating Tuffley Rovers, Gloucester City, Forest Green Rovers, Bath City and Bromsgrove Rovers before facing Gravesend & Northfleet. They took the Kent-based side to a replay before losing 3-0, missing out on a 3rd Round tie against Aston Villa in the process. 2003/04 saw Cinderford Town get to the FA Trophy 2nd Round, whilst their best run in the FA Vase came in 1991/92 when it took three games for Chertsey Town to prevail in a 3rd Round tie. The club have had a few notable wins in local cup competitions, none more so than 2001 when they defeated Bristol City to lift the Gloucestershire Senior Cup.
I'd been wanting to visit Cinderford Town for a while, especially when they became the sole team I needed to complete the Southern Premier. However, whenever they came up as a choice, they promptly had their match called off due to issues with the pitch. To the club's credit, they were always quick off the mark in letting the public know if there were any issues. Right throughout January and February, games were called off due to rain, with me not really surprised given that the pitch was not the greatest. Finally, in mid-March, the opportunity presented itself for a visit. I was off for the week, and so didn't want to do anything too near. Fellow hopper Anwar had a budget of £15 towards petrol costs and so I drew up a list of possible games.
On the day of the game, I'd drawn up a list of 10 possibilities. Cinderford Town were my first choice, given that I'd typed up a lot of my blog for my abandoned visits.I was glad when the club tweeted that there were no issues with the pitch, although just in case I had a backup at Tuffley Rovers planned. I spent the morning walking down town to get some things for my upcoming couple of days away. After coming back I started planning my Wednesday & Thursday away, which, fingers crossed, will include visits to Darlington 1883 & Whitby Town in the evenings. That said, with the weather looking wet once again, I made sure I had plenty of backups with 11 alternatives planned for the Wednesday night should the match fall victim to the weather. However, with my room booked in Darlington, half a mile from the ground, it was something I really wanted to avoid. There was doubt over my afternoon game too - I was originally planning on the 1.30 game at Rothwell Juniors between FC Halifax Town and FC United of Manchester. But with there appearing to be no cover, I was considering either switching to a revisit at Basford (11 am), Farsley (2 pm) or indeed just going straight up.
After leaving at 3.30 and meeting Anwar at 4, we made our way across slow roads on the way to the game. It was especially bunged up in Witney and Gloucester, with us opting to stop at Morrisons Cafe in the latter for dinner. With a late burst of rain, we were concerned at there being a late postponement at Cinderford, so were trying to minimise the chances of a wasted journey. Here I had Sausage, egg, chips and beans for the bargain price of £3. Before I left, I also filled up with diesel as it was nice and cheap. There was no further news on Twitter, and the rain had not been as heavy or as lengthy as the BBC Weather site had predicted. So we made our way to the ground, getting there at 7.20. I was surprised when we got there are were asked if we had brought the Frome kit with us. That has to be a first for me in all my years of hopping and I was fearing the most random reason for a postponement ever, but thankfully it all passed off OK. After paying £10 to get in, plus £2 for a thin programme, we had a walk around the ground getting pictures.
For the game, we took a place along the side in the stand. Cinderford looked nothing like a side that were rock bottom of the league. Frome, who were donning Cinderford's old yellow away strip, thanks to them forgetting their own were distinctly second best. The home side had already had a decent effort ruled out before they took the lead on 20 minutes. The ball was not cleared properly and Nick Harrhy was there to poke home the rebound. The same man made it 2-0 just before the half hour when he converted a penalty that had been awarded following a foul in the area. Callum Mconie gave them a 3-0 lead five minutes later, again it was some slack defending that allowed him to finish with a low shot from around 10 yards. Sam Teale did pull one back with a shot from the edge of the area shortly before hhalf-time but overall the hosts were good value for their lead. That said, the goal did give Frome impetus and they were by far the better side for large periods after the break. They made it game on just before the hour mark when Jack Jackson converted a penalty that had been awarded for a foul on the left hand side of the area. The way the game was going, it looked as if it was only a matter of time before they would equalise, dent Cinderford's confidence and go on to win the game. The hosts were restricted to chances on the break, but it was during one of these chances that they gave themselves some breathing space. A nice move was rounded off by Mconie who grabbed his second, firing across the visiting keeper Kyle Phillips from 15 yards. A vital win was made all the more possible when Frome's Conner Roberts was sent off for a second bookable offence, after tripping a Cinderford forward who was getting away from the defence.
With the visitors down to ten, their chances of getting back into the game were greatly diminished. Despite lots of chances and even a disallowed goal for Frome, there were no further goals and the hosts got a win that was celebrated wildly at full time. This gave them an outside chance of survival, only a glimmer of hope, but if they show the spirit that they did tonight, then anything is possible if luck goes for them. It was quite a late finish, 9.50 before we got away and so after dropping off Anwar at 11.30, I got home myself 20 minutes later. After staying up watching TV and writing some of my blog, I got to sleep around 1.30am.
THE CAUSEWAY is a fairly old and ramshackle ground, and all the better for it. The needed improvements for step 3 are currently being put in place, although the ground was more than adequate already for the crowds they get, upon my visit. All the covered accommodation is along one side, with the main seated area. This has a capacity of 250 and is flanked either side by standing areas. The one nearest the turnstiles is a strange one - you actually stand around a foot below pitch level, which gives a strange but perfectly acceptable view of the action. Up the other end is a work in progress, a smaller area currently being extended and out of bounds on my visit. The other three sides were open hard standing, with a couple of steps of terracing on the far side.
Facilities at the ground are reasonable. The clubhouse has a bit of a retro feel to it and offers a reasonable range of drinks, though cider drinkers are restricted to Strongbow, Stowford Press or a few bottles, with nothing local on offer. The food looked decent, although I didn't indulge. The club shop was the best part, with a decent range of souvenirs, lots of pennants from random clubs and a large selection of old programmes. Talking of programmes, the one on the night was not the greatest. Very thin for the asking price of £2, not too much to read and no list of previous results. In its defence, it was well presented with good print quality and design.