Result: Buxton A-A Bradford Park Avenue (FA Trophy Third Round)
Venue: Silverlands (Saturday 28th November, 3pm)
After a large amount of rain in the days leading up to the weekend, my original choice of game at Eagle Sports was rained off leaving me with a dilemma of where to head to instead. After a quick browse of the FA Trophy fixtures I was left with a choice between Warrington Town and Buxton. With the latter confidently declaring there was no need for an inspection and the game was 100% set to go , my mind was made up for me and off I headed to the Peak District.
After heading through Piccadilly Station in Manchester following a rather lengthy wait, I was soon heading into the drizzly, unrelenting moisture falling from the skies and through the suburbs of the east of the city, before heading into the countryside and the small towns en route with a special note going to Chapel-en-le-Frith for the experience at the end of last season which gave us Neville.
Evenntually, I arrived into a very chilly Buxton at just past midday and headed towards the pavilion and its gardens for the first stop of the day, the pre-scouted Old Clubhouse pub. After entering, the added bonus for me was they were showing the F1 qualifying (despite it being on the Beeb) and I ordered a pint of Estrella to accompany me for an hour of watching the session in the twilight of Abu Dhabi and seeing my personal hero Kimi Raikkonen claim 3rd for the race in what turned out to be the high point of the day, which gives you an insight into how the rest of the trip is going to pan out.
The Old Clubhouse itself is a very nice place, one of those pubs that’s also a restaurant at the same time and sits directly alongside the pavilion and the town’s opera house. Upon the completion of my TV viewing, I headed out into the now driving Derbyshire rain and headed over for the King’s Head pub, one of the upper town centre’s pubs I’d visited on my prior visit to Buxton a couple of seasons back. But first, I headed over to see the natural spring which spurts out the famed Buxton water and the mineral water was being topped up today by a pair of people who were stocking up for winter, it seemed!
After this quick sojourn, it was over to the aforementioned public house and after entering, I was soon followed by a guy flying the colours of the Unibond League scarf from a few years back. After a small chat with him and his two companions who weren’t accompanying him to the game today, but did delight in telling tales of the winters endured in Buxton and how much one of the guys delighted in walking to work while the “wankers in the cars didn’t make it in”. Terrific! However, while in there, I made the decision to head over the road to the New Inn, the other pub I visited on my last visit and had a quick half in the old-fashioned Robbie’s boozer before heading up towards Silverlands in the ever worsening weather for the game. By this point, however, I was worried for the state of the pitch and was checking (whilst taking cover) twitter frantically to ensure the game was still on. It was, so onwards I marched!
Eventually, after a wrong turn, I found my way to Silverlands just as the match sponsors (unlucky guys) pulled up to. They were let in for free, but I had no such luck and was soon £10 lighter. I immediately regretted handing over the money as I glanced at the pitch and saw just what a state it was in. This game had no chance of lasting the distance and I was honestly surprised they were even attempting to play the game at all. The goalmouth at the clubhouse end was already in a waterlogged state and the mud didn’t look too welcoming for whichever goalkeeper was going to be down that end, nor I suspect was it any better for his opposite number. This was a mistake, and I already knew it.
Silverlands itself is an old-fashioned sort of ground. It has an all-seater raised stand on the half-way line, which houses the changing rooms underneath and has the dugouts in front. The shop, food hut and turnstiles sit to the right as you enter, with a large, deep set covered terrace sitting behind the near goal, alongside which the clubhouse is located. The far touchline is where R.D.’s den is located. The den is a small, long covered terrace which runs the length of the line. The far end is open standing and, unsurprisingly, there was no-one braving the elements down there today.
Soon enough, the teams came out and this is where I’d interrupt for the history usually, before going on to describe the game. Sadly, the “game” was a bit of a farce, as, eventually, the teams pretty much appeared to know what was inevitably coming at half-time and after a rather competitive first 20 minutes, just went through the motions. Indeed, as I headed to the food bar for some chips and gravy for £2, I spoke to a home supporter who must have seen this all before and his view was it was “inevitable” this was going to be abandoned at half-time, when I asked for his view.
Vindicated, I watched the last few minutes of the half from within the nice clubhouse the Bucks have at their disposal, before the very surprising news came through the twittersphere, game abandoned! Shocking. Oh, because you asked so nicely, here’s some history of Buxton FC…
Buxton FC were formed in 1877 as an offshoot of the town’s cricket club. The first game for the football arm was a seven-a-side contest and took place at the Park, which still houses the cricket club now. The Bucks played at a couple of venues prior to settling at The Silverlands in 1884, which was then a field owned by the club’s captain. Silverlands is touted as the highest club in the English football pyramid at over 1000ft above sea level, beating Tow Law Town and AFC Emley into 2nd & 3rd respectively (according to Wikipedia).
The club entered the Combination in 1891, before heading to the Manchester League in 1899, where they won two League Cups in 1926 & ’27, before winning the league title in 1932 which then prompted a switch to the Cheshire League. Despite some cup silverware (3x League Cups) it took a long while to achieve the Cheshire League title (’72-’73), all of 40 years in fact, meaning that promotion to the Northern Premier League was an option for the season 1973-’74 and that option was taken up. The club’s first silverware in this league was the 1980-’81 President’s Cup and in 1991, the Bucks reached the league’s League Cup final, but were defeated in that contest.
Successive relegations in 1997 & ’98 saw the club end up in the Northern Counties East League where they remained until 2006 when they were promoted back to the NPL as champions. As such, they were playing in the Division 1 North and immediately won this league too, which meant the Bucks were to compete in the league’s top flight. Along with the league title, the club also lifted the President’s Cup for a second time and in 2009, added further silverware, with the Derbyshire Senior Cup returning to Silverlands for a 10th time with a win over local rivals Matlock Town, with the club winning it again in 2012, its last honour. Last season, the club finished up in 10th place in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division.
So, I headed out of the clubhouse and through the turnstile gate and back down the roads of Buxton, berating myself for being stupid enough to still go up to the ground, never mind actually paying to get in, especially considering Silverlands wasn’t a “new” ground or anything like that. The only saving grace is that Buxton is a great little town and the ground itself is more than decent too. Unfortunately, the less said about the referee’s decision making the better. Only took 45 minutes to get one right!
Game: 0- Were we really there?
Ground: 7- Nice, old-style ground. One of the better ones.
Fans: 6- Good mix in the terrace between the two lots of supporters. Home fans fairly vocal on occasion.
Food: 7- Decent chips and gravy.
Programme: N/A- Two trips, no programmes. Do they really exist, or is it a myth?!
Value For Money: 3- Three for the day only.