Manchopper in….Grantham

Result: Grantham Town 2-1 Trafford

Venue: The South Kesteven Sports Stadium

Att: 216

So, the trip to Grantham was quite a long one, although I did miss an hour of it, due to visiting the wonderful land of nod and waking up just in time for breakfast/lunch. Brunch? I never miss a chance to eat!

Anyway, the day began with a trip aboard the Trafford team coach. Setting off at a half past 9, we passed up past Oldham first, before cutting down the Pennines, to arrive in the small town of Blyth, not to be confused with the Blyth visited earlier in the season, up in the North East. This one was situated just outside of the Worksop area, just in the county of Nottinghamshire. We pulled into the ‘Fourways Hotel’, one of a number of public houses in such a small area. You would never be thirsty here, put it that way!

After a full English for the non-playing travellers, and a healthier option for the more athletic of us, we continued on towards Lincolnshire, and arrived in Grantham, at around 1.30pm. The quite impressive South Kesteven Ground loomed into view, with its all seater stand dominating the area.

But onto that later. I initially set off towards a local pub. After being treated to some, ahem, very nice views during the trip, I disembarked at the bus terminus, and after some help from the friendly locals, I was pointed in the direction of some watering holes. After walking past a closed JJB shop, RIP, I arrived at my first stop, The Goose, which appeared to have been a bank at some time? After watching both Bolton and Man City pick up three points, the latter thanks in part to Tim Howard’s head, I moved on towards the Blue Bull. Now, this was a small pub, somewhat dingy, with its very own 90-year-old cadet in the corner, in full regalia. Respect to him in all  seriousness though.

After, an underwhelming sit in the beer garden,  I was en route, once again, to the ground.

The ground is home to the Athletics Club, which  judging by the trophy cabinet in reception, is very successful. Because of the athletics, the pitch is surrounded by the athletics track, sandpit and other equipment, but despite this, it wasn’t as bad as other grounds with the same problem. It has two stands, the all seater Main Stand, home to the reception and clubhouse, and a terrace on the far side, bearing a greeting to the ground. Its capacity is 7,500 with 750 of these able to be seated.

History Lesson:

Grantham Town have been in existence since 1874, under the name of Grantham F.C. Their first game ended in a 2-1 friendly win over the Third Lincolnshire Volunteer Rifles. Their first league was the Midland Football Alliance, in the 1891-92 season, before moving on to the Grantham & District League, in 1893. After 11 seasons, the club joined the Midland Amateur Alliance, before, in 1908, they joined the Midland Amateur League. During their time in this league, they won it in 1910-11, and reached the league cup final the same year. They then moved onto the Central Alliance, spending 14 years in this league, before winning the title in 1925. They then joined the Midland League for the next season, spending 8 seasons, before spending a season in the Central Combination, then re-joining the Midland League in 1934. Here they remained until 1959, when they moved on to the Central Alliance Southern Division, but spent just two seasons in this league, before once again, joining the Midland League in 1961, spending a further 11 years there, finishing runners-up twice, winning two league cups, and winning 3 titles. The latter resulted in a move to the Southern League Division 1 South in 1972, where they immediately won it, being promoted to the Southern Premier, and finishing as runners-up during this season. However, after 5 seasons, they were relegated to the Southern League Division 1 North, for 1978-79, winning an immediate promotion, this time to the NPL. Here they remained until 1985, when they switched to the Southern League Midland Division, spending 13 years here, before being promoted, once again, to the Southern Premier. They spent two years in this league, before suffering a relegation to the Eastern Section. After just 2 seasons, they returned to the Premier, as runners-up. In 2006, they were switched to the NPL Premier, being relegated immediately to the NPL South, before after 5 years, they won it, and returned to the Premier Division for this year.

The club has also won many Lincolnshire County Cups and FA honours, in addition to reaching the FA Cup third round 3 times, the last being in 1973-74, and reaching the FA Trophy Quarter Finals on two occasions, the last being as recent as 1997-98. Their record win was a 13-0 victory over Rufford Colliery in the FA Cup in 1934-35, and their biggest defeat came at the hands of Notts County in 1892-93, losing 16-0 at home. Their attendance record was set when Middlesbrough visited in 1973-74, for an FA Cut 3rd round tie, with 6,573 in attendance.

Now back to Match of the Day. I arrived at the ground, and after £10 given to the gateman, and a further £2 for the programme, titled ‘The Gingerbreads’, and a scout attempting to get in without a pass, I made my way round to the far side, covered terrace. There, some banter was shared by both sets of fans, the home followers especially, who looked impressive with their many flags. And they were soon cheering when Greg Smith fired them ahead, with Man Utd loanee Kieran O’Hara, helpless.

However, Trafford were soon level, when Shelton Payne fired home a volley, with the keeper seeming to make a mistake. Half-time arrived soon after, and after a short visit to the clubhouse, I ventured back outside, to be greeted with the announcer gleefully informing of Grantham’s second, which was undoubtedly a 65-yard screamer. I took a place in the seating for the second period.

After Ash Burbeary was dismissed for two consecutive yellow cards, immediately after each other, and within half a second, Trafford sensed an opportunity. However, Grantham rose to the challenge, and saw off their efforts very easily, and were deserving of the three points, despite an overall poor game. The referee hadn’t endeared himself to either set of fans, with his performance being only the third under-par official so far. However, this only proves testament to the high level that the others officiate at.

So, we sat in the clubhouse afterwards for a post-mortem of the game, which wasn’t going to be remembered fondly by most in attendance, and set off home at around 6.00pm, via a quick stop off at a Local Shop, for some much needed, err, refreshments.

My Grantham Town M.o.M- Greg Smith

My Trafford M.o.M- Nia Bayunu

RATINGS:

Game: 3- Awful, Awful game

Ground: 7- Despite the running track, and other amenities, it was very impressive, and clean as well.

Food: N/A- Didn’t get any.

Programme:6- Pretty decent read

Fans:6- At least they backed their side.

Value for Money:7- Can’t complain, seeing as how £10 now seems commonplace

Referee: 3- Well, didn’t endear himself to either set of fans…

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