Result: Corby Town 4-2 Trafford (FA Cup)
Venue: Steel Park
In the shadow of the Rockingham Motor Speedway, a sporting contest of epic proportions was to play out. This was the FA Cup. This was Rockingham Road. This was Steel Park. This was CORBY!!!! Ok, granted it doesn’t quite have the ring of King Leonidas in 300 does it?!
The trip began, as always with the short walk down to Shawe View. Or, so it would have, but I got lazy and blagged a lift from my Dad. Ooooosh!!!!
So, after 5 minutes, I was boarding the Trafford team coach, and unfortunately, managed to grab the seat near the toilets. Lovely. Unbelievably, and possibly for the first time ever, we set off not on time, but early.
After a quick stop off to pick up a few of the Cheshire based players, we continued on the, sadly, void of any cows-stood-on-other-cows action, we continued on our three-hour ish trip to Northamptonshire. After around 2-and-a-half hours, we pulled into our breakfast stop, although again, as on the trip to Grantham, it was more of a brunch. The Stag’s Head in Maidwell was to be our feeding point. Entering the bar, we seemed to gatecrash a christening party of some sort, who were just preparing to leave for the service. No sooner had they departed, we were sat down, and the Full-English was being served imminently. Great Service. There was also free Wi-Fi. This little pub was fast endearing itself to me!
After devouring the meal, apart from the Black Pudding, which Dan Watkinson (yes, he’s here again!) ate instead, because I know what it is and I can’t eat it along with some ‘Horsey’ related action, involving a weird horse picture, we were off on our way again. Incidentally Maidwell is on the border of Northants and Leicestershire. So, now you know. G.I. Joeeeee!!!….Sorry.
So, after a further half-hour along the A14 towards Kettering, we cruised up to the ground, including missing the turn off for the ground, which gave us an insight into quite where the pubs were.
We pulled into the car park, and with the option to sit boring myself witless in the clubhouse, or accompanying Trafford fan Mike “Cappy” Capp to, firstly, Rockingham Castle, I chose the latter option. Sadly, as we approached the Castle gates, it became apparent that the 900-year-old castle was shut off for the day. Pubs were called for, and pubs were visited. First on the agenda was the Wetherspoons named the Samuel Lloyd. Samuel Lloyd was the man who is credited with transforming Corby from a sleepy village within the Forest of Rockingham, into an industrial town. Stewart & Lloyds built many of the surrounding houses and schools as well as the sports grounds. Corby began life as a settlement under Danish invaders, led by Kori, who lends his name to the town. The Steelworks around which the town grew, shut its doors in 1980. Not before Corby became little Scotland, however! Och aye the noo!!!
An unexpected history lesson there. You lucky lot!
So, after supping an Irn-Bru, to fit in with the locals, while Cappy sampled the local delicacies (beer-wise), we moved on to the Hungry-Horse chain pub, the Chequered Flag, in relation to the local racetrack not far away. Here, we met Ashley and Scott, a couple of the younger members of Trafford’s support, who had travelled up on a supporters’ mini-bus. In here, we discovered a pool table, which is always a safe bet to keep us entertained, and out of trouble. However, as we were crossing the car park to the Hungry Horse, we clocked a mobile TV. It proved to be a truck, with an advertisement on a TV, encouraging people to ‘Bin it your way’. I wonder if anyone takes notice. It seems a novelty, as even the driver was taking a pic of his own vehicle!
After a couple of games of pool, we made our way towards the ground, in the knowledge that we would miss the first five minutes or so. Nothing happens then. Cue a big cheer as Corby took the lead. Hmmm. After £10 to get in, and a further £2.50 for the progr….. what?… NO PROGRAMMES!!!!!! HOW CAN YOU RUN OUT!!!!! AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!! This made me angry. Anger of almost Incredible Hulk like proportions….
Anyway, Steel Park, home of Corby Town, is a new, modern ground, built within the grounds of Corby Rugby Club, and next door to the athletics stadium, the Rockingham Triangle Sports Stadium, which incidentally, was their former home. The ground backs onto it, with the dressing room in there, and the main stand is opposite it. It is all seater, with a press area at the top of it. There is a covered terrace, pitch width size, behind the far goal, with the clubhouse end open. There is a big vacant area, where it seems a stand could be built. It has a capacity of 3,893 with 577 of these seated.
Corby Town were founded in 1948, but can trace their roots back to the 1930’s, when Stewarts and Lloyds represented the town of Corby in the United Counties League. In 1948, it was decided that with the town growing, a club bearing the name of the town should be created, thus Corby Town F.C. was born. Their nickname of the ‘Steelmen’ is a consequence of the link between the current club and S&L.
The club played at Occupation Road from their inception (as Corby), until 1985, picking up two league title in the UCL in 1950-51, and 51-52. These prompted a step up to the Midland Football League for the following season, Here, they spent five years, before switching to the Southern League. They achieved promotion in 1965, from Division 1, to the Premier Division of the Southern League, and made several applications to join the Football League. Alas, these were unsuccessful.
Corby were relegated from the Premier Division after 3 seasons, and remained in the Division 1, in various regional formats, until in 1982, the re-organisation of the leagues, saw them placed, again, in the Premier Division. After 8 years, they were relegated once again, and by this time they had move to the Sports Complex. For the remainder of the decade, the club struggled, finishing towards the bottom of the league for most seasons.
From 2002, the club has enjoyed an upturn in its fortunes, culminating in a return to the Southern Premier in 2006. They would have been relegated immediately, after backroom troubles, but were reprieved due to the sad demise of Farnborough Town from the Conference South. For 2007-08, with a new platform in place behind the scenes, and on the field, hopes were high, but these faded horribly, and the club just staved off relegation, after a major playing and managerial staff change in mid season.
However, next season, the Steelmen did achieve promotion to the Conference North(!), in front of 1,990 fans. The record at the sports complex was 2,300 for a pre-season friendly visit of Rangers, due to Corby having a high percentage of Scots living in the area, (Wetherspoons have a Scottish menu and Irn-Bru), and the town is/was home to the biggest Rangers fan club outside of Scotland. (In fact, Cappy repeatedly mentioned he was scared by the Scottish accent not being in Scotland). The record at Occupation Road was a staggering 10,239 versus Peterborough United.
After a number of managerial changes, the club finished 20th in the BS North and were relegated in 2013, after 4 seasons at Step 2, and then, at the start of this season, the manager Chris Plummer resigned after a handful of games, with his assistant Mark Peters taking the reins. However, despite doing well as interim, the duo of Andrew Wilson and Tommy Wright would take charge on a permanent basis.
Continuing to the game now… I missed the first goal, as I rushed to the entry it was that early! And then Corby scored again, after 15 minutes, and found themselves two-nil up through Paul Malone and Tom McGowan, who scored with Kieran O’Hara in the visitors goal helpless and hurt on the floor. No blame attached at all to the Corby man, this was all above board. It looked all over before it had begun.
But think again. Trafford grew into the game after a slow, sloppy start, and a good run by Michael Oates was ended by a trip by Carruthers, and a penalty awarded. Shelton Payne placed the ball past the keeper. And two minutes before half time, Lewis Lacy levelled the game after a goalmouth scramble. A good half of football came to an end.
Half time, and cue a rush to the bar. The queue for it, however, was more reminiscent of a toilet queue, as it stretched out of the bar area, through a little doorway and into the corridor. After a quick trip to the public conveniences,it was time to go back out and see who would start the half on top.
It was Corby. And devastatingly so. Just 4 minutes in, and Malone thrashed home his second, to make it three two, and soon after Tom Schofield, and Shelton Payne had been denied, Andy Smart was the unfortunate man who put through his own net. To be fair, there was little he could do, as the man at the back post would have netted anyway.
It took me until around 75 minutes to clock former Aston Villa and England man Lee Hendrie was on the field, (I’d totally forgot about him), so this excited me. I was also amused by the cockiness of the kids in the stand, whose banter was pretty decent to be fair. Better than mine at their age I have to say! Nice to see them bothered enough to go down and watch their side, and causing no trouble!
And, so, Corby saw out the rest of the game with little threat to their lead, other than one or two shots the keeper saved comfortably, and the home number 4 was absolutely superb throughout as was the left back.
After the game, and with the rain beginning to fall, me, Cappy and Dan decided to make our way off to the Flag again, for more pool, before making our way back to the coach, and a non-league-dog too. Always a welcome sight at any ground. The trip home began, including a quick stop off at a BP for the obligatory refreshments, and the trip back into the darkness began….
My Corby Town M.o.M- Paul Malone (C) (4)
My Trafford M.o.M- Shelton Payne (7)
Game: 9/10- Superb game, really enjoyed it, best so far
Ground: 8/10- Nice modern ground. Could do with a stand behind the other goal perhaps?
Programme: Ran out!! Anyone got one they don’t want? Seriously?
Fans: 9/10- Bit vocal, sportingly applauded O’Hara when he got up from his injury, and on the whole were very nice, as were the people of the town.
Food: Didn’t have any. Don’t know anyone who did.
Value For Money: 9/10- Can’t complain for a game of that quality, and Lee Hendrie!
Referee: 7/10- Another good performance. I’m scared by the levels of them so far!