Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Birstall United - Meadow Lane

Birstall United FC
Meadow Lane

Ground Number: 757
Tuesday 20th February 2018
Birstall United 4-0 Teversal

East Midlands Counties League


The club was founded in 1961 and initially played Sunday League football in the Leicester and District League. After 3 titles, the switch was made to Saturday football where the success continued with progress up the divisions of the Leicester Mutual League. In 1976, the club joined the Leicestershire Senior League, with promotion from Division 2 earned in their debut season. They'd remain in Division 1, later renamed the Premier Division for the next 30 years with finishes ranging from a pair of 16th placed finishes at the start of the current century to the championship season of 2015/16. This entitled them to make the step up to the East Midlands Counties League and they enjoyed an excellent debut season last year, finishing 3rd behind West Bridgford and South Normanton Athletic. This season has seen a decrease in form, but still a respectable mid-table placing. It would be a tough test for their latest fixture though, with them facing leaders Teversal.

This season the club made it's FA Cup debut with them defeating South Normanton Athletic 3-0 before a defeat by the same scoreline to Cleethorpes Town in the Preliminary Round. They have made a number of appearances in the FA Vase, reaching the 4th Round in the 1997/98 season before a narrow 2-1 loss to Spalding United. Local cup wins include the Tebbutt Brown Cup three times, the Leicestershire and Rutland Senior Cup on three occasions and the Leicestershire Senior Floodlit Cup in 1994. The most well-known player to turn out for the club is Calvin Plummer who played under Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest as well as in the Football League at Chesterfield, Derby County, Plymouth Argyle and Barnsley. The village of Birstall is a fairly large one, with a population of just over 12,000 according to the last census.


Though I'd had a really busy weekend of football thanks to an extra day off, I was still as keen as ever to see a game on this Tuesday. There wasn't a tremendous amount of choice and so I wasn't that optimistic that fellow hopper Anwar would fancy any of them. However, when I messaged him, he was willing to do one, only with a limited budget. Luckily, Birstall United was the nearest unticked ground and was doable on what he was willing to spend on petrol. I spent the Monday night catching up on by blogging, including doing research for this game. I was hoping for a good night's sleep, what with it being my day off work on the day of the game. I did get a reasonable night in, going to sleep at 1 am and getting up at 8.30 as well as also having an afternoon nap the previous day.  I went down town early and went for a much-needed haircut and picked up a few bits of shopping before meeting my Dad for a lift home. For lunch, I had a Goan pulled pork curry which was pretty decent. The afternoon was spent at home, including trying to plan some games to go to over the next few months.  It proved to be a little too early to plan for my week off in a months time, with hardly any games organised at present.  I also placed a bet for the first time in ages and saw that a number of games had fallen victim to the weather. I was hoping that my pick would not be one of them. Locally, Ashby Ivanhoe had bitten the dust at lunchtime, though I did have Kirby Muxloe Reserves as a backup. There was a disappointing lack of updates from the Birstall United Twitter feed and they had no website either, but visitors Teversal appeared to think the game was going ahead.

I made up my flask and left at 3.50. It was a good journey to Aylesbury with me getting to Anwar at 4.15, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I set up Twitter alerts for both of tonight's clubs and programmed my Sat Nav while I waited for him. I had a bit of a wait as he was kept waiting in his local shop, but eventually, we were on our way. Getting out of Aylesbury is usually a pain, but on this occasion it was fine. Even through the unpleasant city of Milton Keynes and its plethora of roundabouts, the going was very reasonable for rush hour. A few miles on the M1 signs started to light up saying that there were people on the road. We were held at a standstill for 45 minutes with me turning my engine off once I realised we were not moving. It still cost me on my fuel economy, but at least there wasn't too much damage done. Eventually, we got going and later on, I was pleased when Northants Police tweeted that they had reached a 'successful resolution' but the delay made things a bit tight. We got to the ground at 6.55 and after seeing that the floodlights were on and the game was going ahead, we made our way to the local chip shop, Birstall Fisheries. I looked on Google later and it appeared to have a lot of negative reviews for stingy portions - a pet hate of Anwar and I. However, on this occasion my portion was decent, the only negative being that the woman in front of us had the last bit of Black Pudding that I had my eye on, so I had to make do with pancake roll and chips for £3.50. We eat them whilst walking back to the car and they were pretty good overall.

We got to the ground at 7.20, paying a fiver each to get in and me also getting a programme for £1. Pre-match was spent catching up online and getting pictures of the ground. I'd have liked time to start typing up my blog but thanks to the earlier delay there was no time. The game kicked off with visitors Teversal having the first couple of chances but it was Birstall United that took the lead on 3 minutes. A cross-cum-shot from the right was only parried by Tevie keeper Josh Turton. The visitors had a couple of chances on the break as well as the hosts having a shot cleared off the line, but it was Birstall United that doubled their lead on 26 minutes. Keeper Turton brought down a home man and Sam Moore dispatched the penalty with aplomb, blasting it into the top right corner in the style of West Ham's Julian Dicks back in the day. It was nearly 3-0 soon after when the Teversal keeper was caught off his line, but the Birstall striker shot wide. The rout continued in the second half and on 15 minutes Lewis Dodd made it 3-0 with a spectacular lob from the halfway line that caught keeper Turton off his line again. The scoring was complete a minute later when a visiting defender slid a cross into his own net. Teversal's misery was complete a few minutes later when Lewis Fisher was rightly sent off for a crunching tackle that got nowhere near the ball. Turton made a good double save to prevent it becoming 5-0 and a header narrowly wide saw Teversal missing the chance to reduce the arrears.  

It was a bad night at the office for Teversal and though they'd bought a few fans, it was the majority of the 37 crowd that went home happy. The result was especially surprising given that Tevie came into the game on the back of 9 straight wins, whilst Birstall had lost their last 3. Out of my other potential options on the night, Kirby Muxloe Reserves beat Ashby Ivanhoe Reserves 4-0 whilst Holwell Sports lost 2-1 at home to Holbrook Sports. With my other 3 options postponed, I was lucky that Birstall had an excellent pitch. Other results on the night saw a mixed bag for Wycombe with one result going for them and another against them in terms of promotion rivals. MY bet was ruined by AFC Fylde's failure to beat Guiseley, the only game on my six-fold to go wrong. We left at 9.35 and despite 15 minutes being added to my journey thanks to a closure on the M1, I dropped Anwar off at 11.10. I got home myself 25 minutes later but didn't get to sleep for another hour or so, meaning I was pretty tired when I got up for work at 4 am the following morning.


MEADOW LANE is a smart ground for the level which has seen a few improvements in recent years. As you enter behind the goal there's a small covered area as well as a clubhouse and other facilities. Along one side is a metal seated stand which is a bit different to the usual 'Arena' type ones. This looks to have a capacity of around 50. Next to it is a smart standing area, around 150 in capacity. This is in the process of being built and has no back and sides but ironically looks like a mini version of a much bigger stand at Notts County's Meadow Lane. The other two sides are open flat standing.

Facilities at the ground do the job but are quite basic. There's a tea bar serving drinks, snacks and rolls, but no hot food. There is also a bar with a basic range of drinks on offer at good value prices. The village is around 15 minutes walk away and has a number of takeaways and pubs.


1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)

A nice homely and well-kept venue (7)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
Nearby village, parking ok (6)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Average (5)

4: Value for money

Decent value for the level (7)

5: Social Media & Website
No website, sporadically updated Twitter (4)

6: Programme

Disappointing effort but smart cover, only £1 (4)

7: Game entertainment
A decent contest, if a little one-sided (7)

8: Tea Bar
Basic with hot drinks and rolls, but you can't expect much at this level (5)

9: Bar / Clubhouse

Basic range of drinks (5)

10: Club Shop
None (-)



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