Result: Barwell 0-0 Trafford (Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division)
Venue: Kirkby Road (Saturday 23rd November 2013, 3.00pm)
Yes, I’m back after a fair while off, and it is with the dullest game of the season so far with which I return. There will be very little of the game itself mentioned, due to the fact that almost absolutely NOTHING occurred in it. So, here we go….
After setting off at around 10am, yet again on the visitors coach, I arrived in Leicestershire, again, in the small town of Barwell, which is situated very close to Hinckley. In fact we travelled past the sadly disused stadium of now defunct Hinckley United on our way. After a quick scout of the town on our entrance, Trafford supporter Mike Capp decided to set off on his tours, and as otherwise he would be left all alone, I decided that it would be right to join him. The first watering hole we visited was ‘The Cross Keys’, which was a small, quaint pub. As you enter, you are struck by a welcoming atmosphere, not to mention the sight of the pub’s resident parrot towards the rear of the bar area! With a pint of cider in hand, we headed into the games room, where a number of Liverpool(?) fans were watching the Merseyside derby intently, whilst we began to break the tension with a game of pool. Yes, I lost. Again.
After this quick stop, we moved on down towards the roundabout in the town, and into the second pub, The Blacksmith’s Arms, where the darts came out. With a Yorkshire derby featuring Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town on as well as the Merseyside game, we were helped out by the locals in purchasing some new flights to replace the older ones. Yes, these details are actually more exciting than the game which is why they are being mentioned! In honour of Liverpool’s old sponsors, I decided to have a Carlsberg, which didn’t help me in my cause as I again lost on the arrows. By now, the time was approaching 3pm, and a quick rush towards the ground ensued.
It wouldn’t be a Cappy’s Tours without getting hopelessly lost round the back of a housing estate, and this is exactly what happened. After heading the wrong way initially, we were directed to a footpath which headed toward the ground by a garage-clearing local. He failed too mention, however, that the ‘path’ was in fact muddy and waterlogged. Superb! After venturing down the back passage (behave!), and past a cemetery where I was starting to wonder is where we would end up, the ground began to come into view and the ordeal was over.
After paying my £9 entrance fee, plus the £2 for the smartly designed programme, I made my way in ready to write the match report for the visitors, despite missing the early exchanges, due to the unplanned excursion. The ground features three stands, with one covered terrace behind the far goal, and another terrace alongside the main stand to the right from where you enter, The other two sides are open. The Kirkby Road ground can hold 2,500 fans, with 256 able to be seated. A lovely Curry and Chips were soon devoured, as I hadn’t eaten all day in preparation for this trip, and so began the game. As I have said, this was the worst game I have seen in a while, which is in no reflection on the two sides’ talents, just how evenly matched they were on the day. Honestly, I think there were only a couple of half chances in the first half, and thankfully, the whistle blew for half-time to the relief of the hundred and fifty in attendance on a chilly afternoon.
The history of Barwell FC, starts very recently, in only 1992 in fact, meaning that just 44 years was the combined age of the sides involved today. They began life as a result of a merger between Hinckley FC and Barwell Athletic of the Midland Combination and Leicestershire Senior Leagues respectively. For the ’92-’93 season, floodlights were installed to comply with regulations. The new club initially played in the former league, before becoming a founder member of the Midland Alliance in 1994. In 1995-96, the club reached the last 16 of the FA Vase, bowing out 3-1 to now defunct Flixton, incidentally Trafford’s neighbours until their demise. In 1996, a new 500-seater stand was erected and the Leicestershire Senior Cup and President’s Trophy were lifted. The following season, the ground was enclosed to ensure progression up the pyramid could be achieved. In ’99-’00 and ’00-’01, the club reached the finals of the Westerby Cup, losing on both occasions at Leicester City’s Filbert Street, to the Foxes and Hinckley United respectively. In 2001, a replacement stand was built, and opened by a local lad, England goalkeeper, Chris Kirkland. In 2004-’05, a further Westerby Cup final was reached, again ending in defeat, this time at Leicester City’s new Walker’s Stadium to Oadby Town. 2006-07 saw Barwell win the ‘Polymac Services’ League Cup at Walsall’s Bescot Stadium, beating Leamington 3-1, along with further Westerby Cup final disappointment and defeat in the Rolleston Charity Cup final too.
2008-’09 finally saw Barwell lift the Westerby Cup, as they beat Quorn 2-0 at the Walker’s, and ended the league campaign as runners-up. In 2009-’10, under Marcus Law, the club reached the semi-final of the FA Vase, bowing out to eventual winners Whitley Bay, over two legs. This season saw further success, with the club beginning the season with silverware, beating Market Drayton Town 4-0 to lift the Joe McGorian Cup, and gained promotion to the Evo-Stik NPL South, remaining undefeated all season, whilst attaining 114 points, netting 125 goals in the process. They lost again in the Westerby Cup final, 2-1 to Loughborough Dynamo but beat Hinckley United 3-0 to win the Rolleston Charity Cup.
’10-’11 saw Law leave for Kettering Town, but this didn’t affect the side as they won the league at the first attempt, despite two changes of manager, with Law and his assistant and successor, Paul O’Brien relinquishing the role soon after. Jimmy Ginnelly was the man who oversaw the success. The club were then allocated to the Evo-Stik Southern Premier League for season 2011-’12. Two seasons of consolidation followed, before the club were switched back to the NPL for this season.
So, at half-time I took the opportunity to do some ground photography, and waste the 15 minutes away, only to find a worse 45 minutes following it, as the only real action saw Michael Oates spurn a decent headed chance for Trafford, before the visitors’ on loan Manchester United goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara pulled off two late saves from Barwell’s Gudger and Barlone, as both ‘keepers finished the game as the happiest players on the pitch.
After the game, I took the short walk over to the Sports Club around the boundary of the adjoining cricket oval, where the trophies of the football club and other Sporting successes are proudly displayed, along with other mementos such as an England cricket shirt signed by (now former) England spin twins, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar. After watching Sebastian Vettel claim yet another pole position on his way to a dominant 4th F1 World Title, we departed on the road back up North, and hopefully, this is the dullest game I see this year. I don’t think I could take worse!!
My Barwell M.o.M- Connor Gudger
My Trafford M.o.M- Steve Mason
Game:3- Awful, dull, cure for insomnia
Ground:7-Smart, lacking a little on two sides, though. Other than that, very tidy and well maintained.
Programme:7- Decent effort. Smart looking, and enough info in there
Fans:7- Good people, knew their football.
Food:10- Really,really impressive food. Pricey, but worth it.
Value For Money:5- Just on basis of a poor game really…
Referee:7- Was o.k. Quite an easy game for him to officiate on.
BARWELL: 1.Neil Collett, 2.Scott Lower, 3.Connor Gudger, 4.Danny Spencer, 5.Jamie Hood, 6.Richard Lavery, 7.Jack Edwards, 8.Scott Hadland,9.Luke Barlone, 10.Anthony Griffith-Junior, 11.Danny Quinn SUBS: 12.Guy Hadland, 14.Nigel Julien(p), 15.Kieran Brehon(p), 16.Tom Weale(p), 17.Liam Castle
TRAFFORD: 1.Kieran O’Hara, 2.Chris Palmer, 3.Andy Smart, 4.Steve Mason, 5.Nia Bayunu(c), 6.Tom Schofield, 7.Omar McKenzie, 8.Rory Fallon, 9.Michael Oates, 10.Brett Mbalanda, 11.Paul Ashton. SUBS: 12.Callum Jones, 14.Danny McKenzie(p), 15.Luke Heron(p), 16.Clovis Kalala, 17.Clevon Beadle.