Thursday, 25 May 2017

Radcliffe Olympic - Wharf Lane Recreation Ground

Radcliffe Olympic FC
The Recreation Ground
Wharf Lane
Radcliffe on Trent
NG12 2AN

Ground Number: 697
Wednesday 24th May 2017
Radcliffe Olympic 3-3 South Normanton Athletic
East Midlands Counties League


The club were formed in 1876 and spent the vast majority of their early history in local leagues such as the Notts Alliance, Notts Realm League and Central Midlands Alliance. After struggling in the early to mid 90's during which time they dropped as low as Division 2 of the Notts Alliance, they fought back in the second half of the decade. After winning the top division of the Notts Alliance in 2003, they won promotion to the Central Midlands League. Starting in its second tier, they were league winners in their first season. After five seasons in the delightfully named Supreme Division, they won the title in 2009. This earned them promotion to the East Midlands Counties League where they remain to this day. Their debut season was their best finish in the club's history when they came in 5th place. Latterly results have declined but they have already guaranteed their best finish for 4 seasons. They could finish as high as 11th, though would face a tough game against South Normanton Athletic who were going for the runners-up spot.

Radcliffe Olympic have only enjoyed two FA Cup campaigns, but their debut season of 2010/11 was a notable one. They beat Holbeach United, Wisbech Town, Winterton Rangers and Oadby Town before being drawn against Tipton Town in the 3rd Qualifying Round. After gaining a 3-3 draw, they went out 2-0 in the replay in Birmingham. Their conquerors reached the 1st Round and were rewarded with a game against football league side Carlisle United. The FA Vase has not seen such a run, though they have reached the 1st Round on three occasions. Various League Cups have been won in the past, whilst the town boasts a famous local resident in former Nottingham Forest midfielder Ian Woan.


I was originally considering this much-rearranged game on Saturday. However, almost at the same time, fellow hopper Chris said he was unavailable and Radcliffe Olympic said they were unable to host. I was quite pleased when the game was rearranged for the following Wednesday when Chris was available. It was the one remaining game left to be played in the East Midlands Counties League, that is unless you count Greenwood Meadows' six unplayed games. Back in April, their pathetic chairman had dissolved the club mid-season, letting down supporters, players, volunteers and opponents alike. I'd also not had a chance to 'tick' the ground given the late notice, that is unless anther club moves in.

On the day of the game, it was an easy day at work and even after taking a break I was still out by 11. Normally, I'd have a sleep before leaving, but with no football yesterday and therefore I got a reasonably early night. I came home and did some final research for tonight's pre-match options. I was pleased when the match was confirmed on, and spent the afternoon playing Football Manager before leaving just before 4. The journey to Milton Keynes was reasonable after delays getting through Aylesbury and I arrived to meet Chris at 5.05. After a couple of minutes, he was out of work and we were on our way. There was 10 minutes getting onto the M1 due to the excess of roundabouts in MK, but soon enough we were on our way. Apart from the standard slow spots on the motorway due to the long-running roadworks, the journey was good, especially for the rush hour. We got to Radcliffe at 6.40 and parked at the end of the road leading up to the ground. First stop was a local Chinese takeway called Zhan's where we ordered dinner. While it was cooking, we popped over to an excellent micropub called the Yard of Ale. There I had a bottle of Farmer's Fear Dry which was excellent and very tasty for a 4.5% drink. I also bought some chorizo crisps for later on before going to pick up our dinner. The chips were fine, but the chicken satay skewers were nowhere as good as the ones we had in Swaffham before. They were basically just skewers with a pot of cold satay sauce as opposed to the earlier ones which were cooked in the sauce and had extra bits to bring out the flavour. We eat them on a nearby bench before making our way to the ground.


We got there around 7.25, paying £5 entry plus £1 for a programme from the tea bar. Groundhoppers were out in force for this one and over the course of the evening, I met John, Lee & Katie, Malcolm for the 'On The Road' blog and his mate who he christened 'The Daft Lad' on his site. The original game had been abandoned on 83 minutes with the hosts leading 2-1 due to player injury. The game certainly started with a  bit of needle with plenty of heavy tackles flying in and any chance of this being a friendly end of season kick about soon evaporated. Radcliffe took the lead on 9 minutes with an own goal though visiting defender Mark Strzyzweski couldn't really do much apart from deflect a cross over the line from point-blank range. On 35 minutes the lead was doubled, Samuel Adams converting a penalty after a foul in the area. Ironically, the same player gave the visitors a way back into the game a couple of minutes later when he committed an offence in the area. Tommy Leighton stepped up and converted the resulting spot kick. A couple of minutes before the break, it was all level. Leighton was involved again when his free kick was headed in at the back post by Warren Hatfield. Just before the hour mark, Liam Smallwood capitalised on hesitant defending, prodding home from around 10 yards to restore the hosts lead. Despite his side leading 3-2 and having played some great stuff, the Radcliffe manager decided to berate and abuse the match officials, claiming the referee had 'given them f**king nothing' in a prolonged hissy fit. One of his players had shortly before received his marching orders for a second yellow card and once he had finally shut up, he was on his way too, sent to sulk on the sidelines. An entertaining game was completed on 83 minutes when Tom Leighton's excellent dipping volley from the edge of the area made it all square. Four of the goals are below, though annoyingly I've not worked out how to add on-screen graphics with my new video editor.

It was on reflection and a fair result. It had also been an excellent game to cap off my midweek adventures for the season. Despite their prickly man in the home dugout, Radcliffe had been good hosts and it had been a nice place to watch a game on what was a warm evening. You can view other bloggers reports by clicking the links here from The Mowdog, Shaun Smith (sorry I missed you pal) & Just Another Football Ground. I met up again with Chris who had spent the game with John at 9.40, dropping him home at 11.20. By the time I got home it was just after midnight. As per usual I had an hour up before I got to sleep, eventually dropping off around 1 am. As a result I was tired when I awoke at 4 am for work, resulting in a much needed sleep the following afternoon. Next up for me, and my final and 178th game of the season will be the Smedley Crooke Memorial Cup final between Bewdley Town & Coton Green, having agreed arrangements with Chris on the way to this game.


I first visited WHARFE LANE RECREATION GROUND on the 15th January 2011 whilst on the way to Wycombe's 2-1 win at Lincoln City. It was a tidy, but basic setup at the time and although I wasn't able to get in properly, I could see there was one small seated stand with the rest of the ground being open flat standing. Not a lot had changed on my second visit, though it was a nice place to watch a game and good value to boot. A programme was available for £1 and this was reasonable, though it was twice as thick as it needed to be, with only one side of the paper being printed on.

Before my second visit, I researched the town and found that it had a number of takeaways as well as an interesting looking micropub. The Yard Of Ale is indeed a fine establishment and offers a good range of drinks. Zhan's Chinese takeaway around the corner is mediocre, but prices are good. Back at the grounds, cold cans of alcohol are available along with various snacks, as are pin badges. The official club pub is The Manvers Arms, just around the corner from the ground.  

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