Wednesday, 19 October 2016

#35 Tannery Ground, Street

Street 2 Melksham Town 2
Tuesday 18th October 2016, Western League Premier Division

With the Partizan Bristle/Pint of Football Four Day Four Nation Groundhopping Extravaganza™ fast approaching I had decided to give myself some time off from the blog. However seeing as my last fixture had been a full four weeks previous (a comfortable but unspectacular win for Bristol Manor Farm over Clevedon Town at The Creek) I was beginning to get the itch. With my sights still firmly set on ticking off the remainder of the Western League over the next two or three seasons, one fixture jumped out at me.

Street is a village of just over 11,000 situated in the Mendip district of Somerset. In a part of the country littered with weird place names I must say Street has always stuck out. Indeed as I was leaving and the ever-hilarious missus asked me who I was watching tonight I was met with the quip "oh right, who are they playing, Road FC? Ahahahahah." Marvellous.

The A361 derby

Street the football club were formed in 1880 and have spent most of that time bouncing around the Western League with occasional spells in what is now the Somerset County League, which they've won 8 (eight) times. Their opponents today are Melksham Town from Wiltshire, who won the Western Premier League in 2015 but are still with us due to ground grading issues.

By the time I'd driven the 43 miles to Street it was dark and pretty damn cold. A welcome back to midweek winter groundhopping for me. I parked up and walked towards the entrance and was immediately struck by two things: the fact that Street had an on-site day nursery and that instead of the more traditional turnstile, entry to the ground was achieved by passing through a patio door into a tiny square room and paying a little man on a desk. I wasn't complaining about the opportunity to spend a few more seconds in the warm however.

The Tannery Ground is a pretty tidy ground for Western League level and features two pitches: the main one and a full-size training one, a small covered standing area outside of the entrance room with a wide two tier terrace, another smaller covered area on the same side which was today filled with those grey plastic chairs you sat on in primary school and a larger covered seated stand on the side opposite with proper fold-down chairs.

The area outside the entrance room was busiest and the atmosphere was decent for this level, with the 111-strong crowd cheering and banging away for goals and groaning at the officials. Although there was no sign of the fabled Street Ultras on this occasion. Forgetting that I'd be entering Yeovil Town country this evening, I had to quickly reacclimatise myself to darkest Somerset lingo, especially the man next to me who piped up with "yur, 'ee's good in 'er?" in reference to one of the Melksham players. Also amusing were the player's nicknames which included 'Spad', 'Waz' and 'Punchy'.

The action started right away with Melksham opening the scoring after just four minutes when a cross was cleared by Street but only to the edge of the box and into the path of Mike Perrett, who launched a volley into the bottom corner. The home team responded eight minutes later when Craig Herrod cut inside the box, turned past his defenders and shot across goal into the side netting. The first half goalfest was completed in the 41st minute when a misfired long throw-in from Melksham flew to a Street player who failed to control it with his chest, causing it to fall back to Melksham feet where it was passed forward to Gary Higdon for a one-on-one with the keeper which he duly converted from 12 yards.

Straight out of the blocks in the second half Street replied. A long ball over the top was met by Josh Wadham who battled valiantly to get free from his marker and fire home. The Melksham keeper did very well to gather from a corner which resulted in a strike to the crossbar followed by a hearty scramble on the goal line, saving the blushes of his teammate who's rebound sent it goalwards in the first place.

A special mention must go to Melksham's number 3 who was talking to the ref all game and is in fierce contention for Partizan Bristle's Cheeky Bastard of the Season award. A Street player kicked a ball back to a Melksham player for a free kick and the Machiavellian swine protested to the ref that the ball was being kicked away in anger. This produced a flurry of mocking from the home fans in the direction of the defender who turned to grin wryly at us and say "sorry, couldn't help it" to much laughter.  

The game ended a very entertaining 2-2 draw which I thought was fair. If you put a gun to my head I'd probably say Street deserved a win for the 20 minute period of sustained pressure after their goal line scramble but they also let a couple of good chances go begging, so a point it would have to be. Selfishly speaking, a draw between these two is good news for Bristol Manor Farm as well.

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