Thursday, 5 November 2015

#14 Lancer Scott Stadium, Ashton and Backwell United

Ashton and Backwell United 0 Chippenham Park 2

Friday 30th October 2015, Western League Division One

Not wanting to get lazy with my hopping again, whist also hoping to catch Bristol Manor Farm's FA Vase match on Saturday, I was on the lookout for a Friday night match. As a rare treat Loulou was up for this one as well, so I was on the hunt for a ground I could get to from Pilning via Bedminster all in the space of an hour. Let this be a lesson kids: if you want it hard enough, there is always football to watch.

Ashton and Backwell United are based in the North Somerset village of Backwell. They were formed in 1911 as Backwell United but eventually absorbed Ashton Boys, presumably from the nearby village of Long Ashton, to become the team we see today. They currently play in Western League Division One (level 10) but have played in the Western League Premier before. Their relative success considering Backwell's size leaves me pondering why my own home-town of Pilning and Severn Beach with it's population of 3,647 can't even maintain a Suburban League team.  

Chippenham Park have the weird origin story of being an AFC Liverpool-style "little brother" club but one that was set up by the parent club itself (the Southern Premier's Chippenham Town) rather than disgruntled fans. Town launched the club in 2012 to give local youngsters a chance to break into the football pyramid as a separate club rather than a reserves side (Park actually have their own reserves). Despite being technically a separate entity the hope is that many youngsters that do well for Park will make the step-up to Town. Both teams play in the same kit and stadium.

Because we'd had to rush a bit I hadn't had time to check whether this was a league game or an early FA Vase tie as we entered the ground but I can now confirm it was a league game. Looking at the tables now, it meant we were going to be watching 12th-placed Chippenham against 15th-placed Backwell. Tasty!

The Lancer Scott Stadium was easy enough to find, just off Backwell high street. However it was also pretty well hidden. I know Backwell fairly well and I never had a clue there was a football ground there until now. The first noticeable feature of the place is their seemingly honour based ticketing system: a garden shed with a single turnstile hanging off of it and two arm-widths of space between it and the clubhouse wall. Happily there was a club official on hand to take our money and prevent any gatecrashing shenanigans. Once I'd paid I wondered whether the polite thing to do would be to push the turnstile rather than simply walk past it, eventually opting for the former and looking like a massive tit.

Once inside I noticed that the rows of seats were lettered. Leading to metal images of some high-profile cup game where the kindly official would be forced to attempt directing people to allocated seats from his garden shed outpost. 

Silliness aside, the seats by the clubhouse were quite a nice place to be, well lit and right on the edge of the action, with a roof to keep the old boys warm and dry during the winter months. On the opposite side of the pitch there is another smaller stand named after Bill Coggins, a goalkeeper who won league titles with Bristol City and Everton before retiring and becoming landlord of The Rising Sun in Backwell.

I was amused by the token effort that had been put into setting up nets to catch wayward balls; a strip of orange barrier fence only slightly wider than the goal erected slackly above it, which proceeded to save exactly no stray balls. 

The first half was a case of squandered chances for both teams. An Ashton player broke free in the first five minutes but skied his shot. The home team had a number of other chances that were cleared from the goal-line or rattled the woodwork. Eventually the tide turned against them as a Chippenham player was pulled down in the box for a penalty, which he gratefully put away. A easy follow-up from the corner of the box shortly after was to be the only other action of the 90.

I was disappointed that the first game I'd been able to drag Loulou to in a while hadn't exactly been a classic, even as the game got fractious and there looked like their might be a scrap on the cards. I also enjoyed the Chippenham fans calling out to their player to "watch out for Messi" in reference to Ashton's suspiciously Barcelonaesque strip and their mop-topped winger.

Considering it was the lowest standard of football I've covered so far, Ashton and Backwell was a decent enough little ground with plenty of cosy seating and the locals were hilarious. For £6 you can't go wrong.

1 comment:

  1. I expect "Pilning Pilchards FC" to be in existence by 2018.