Tag Archives: North Ferriby United

Grey Day in Dagenham

Saturday 17th September 2016 – Dagenham & Redbridge 2 – 0 North Ferriby

National League @ Victoria Road, Dagenham, London

“…oh I’d rather be a sausage than an egg…”

A university reunion coupled with a vow to get to some Ferriby games now they were venturing south, took me to Dagenham’s Victoria Road. It was a grey September day and cold enough for a jacket; a contrast from the heat wave earlier that week, which was ended with torrential rain the day before this match up.

Dagenham, most famous of course for the Ford factory, is found in London’s eastern most reaches. It took around 45 minutes on the Victoria Line (from Victoria) to reach Dagenham East for this one, and the ground itself is around a five-minute walk from the tube station.

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The area around the ground is fairly residential so supping options are limited to a pub just past the tube station, the Pipe Major. We didn’t venture in on this occasion; there were plenty milling around outside albeit a majority seemed to be in West Ham shirts, so they probably weren’t all going to the match.

Entering Victoria Road (or the Chigwell Construction Stadium for sponsorship purposes) feels akin to entering a leisure centre, with a car park straight in front, and the relatively low stands meaning it is only the floodlights that indicate the venue is used for football.

We headed to the club bar pre-match. It cost 50p to get in (though no restrictions on away fans) and you have to sign in; it is however a nice sized bar, albeit beer on tap is limited. Seating is in what is best described as a sports hall with a couple of tables dotted around. Sutton’s defeat of Tranmere Rovers was being shown on the big screen which we watched with the locals before heading to the away end.

Away fans are accommodated in the ‘Traditional Builders Stand’ at the far end of the ground. It cost £21 to get in; the half of the stand closest to the entrance is populated with home fans, with the away fans having to walk along the bottom of the stand to the far end. There were no problems however, and given the size of the away following that day (23…) the stand felt a bit cold and, stating the obvious’ empty!

There is a small bar underneath the stand, which seemed only to serve Carling, that both home and away fans use. Other chow and sup can be bought at a small kiosk near the entrance, with reasonable prices (£1.20 for tea or coffee).

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To the left of the stand is a small terrace, half of which was closed, but the open half appeared to be full. To the right is a smaller seated stand. Interestingly the teams come out from behind the goal, so I assume more modern changing rooms were installed when the stand was built.

img_0084 img_0089In the context of each club’s respective positions last season, and results and league positions thus far, this seemed very much like David vs Goliath. Dagenham & Redbridge’s team contains a smattering of ex-league players (including the experienced Luke Gutteridge and Paul Benson); having spent nine years playing league football (including a short stint in League 1), presumably the home side are gunning for an immediate return.

This is Ferriby’s first season at this level, with mixed results ranging from a hammering away at Lincoln, and a win at Gateshead mid-week before this one. My hunch however was that the home side would prevail in this one.

The atmosphere at Victoria Road is relatively flat, with the exception of the fans immediately to the left of the away end, who enjoyed frequent exchanges with the three fans in the away end who had some voice (though most of the chants seemed to be food related as opposed to football, hence I guess the ‘Pie Cob Society’ flag).

Ferriby played like they were trying to avoid a loss as opposed to trying to get something from the game. The home side went in one nil up and at half time though it felt like it could be much more. Ferriby had a good crack of it in the second half, but couldn’t build up any meaningful sort of attack.

It was one nil for much of the match, but it never really felt close. The home side doubled their lead shortly before time, wrapping up the three points and securing top spot in the league. This result sent Ferriby into the relegation places. The difference in quality was quite stark; Ferriby constantly giving the ball away and making silly mistakes, which their more experienced equals often capitalised upon.

It might have been because the day was grey, and cold but Victoria Road feels like it has seen better days. Prices are however reasonable and the fans & staff care for the club; the attendance felt low that day (1,119) despite local Premier League behemoths being away at West Brom. The game was however both watchable and enjoyable; Victoria Road is a bit of a trek from Central London for a capital ground tick if truth be told. It feels very much like a non-league ground but with some tweaks to allow for bigger followings that must have come here when they played league football.

Other photos from the day

 

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End of the line….Corby

Saturday 5th March 2016 – Corby Town 1 – 4 North Ferriby United

National League North @ Steel Park, Corby

“Get back to your farms, you Northerners…”

Saturday 5th March was supposed to be a trip to the second city to watch Hull take on Birmingham City at St. Andrews. Sky Sports however had other ideas, switching the game to a Thursday evening, making travel for the exiled fan (and I imagine those with HU postcodes also) almost impossible, especially on a school night.

But a game was needed. And so it was we opted to follow Hull’s neighbours down the river, North Ferriby United, in one of their most southerly fixtures, away at Corby Town.

The title of this blog entry is “End of the line….Corby”, in reference to the fact the town sits at the end of a single train line into London St. Pancras. An easy trip for me, but not for my mate travelling from Birmingham, who had to change twice.

Corby is a steel town (as the name of their football ground suggests). Also of interest is that it has a large Scottish population, due to the fact many from North of the border came here to work in the industry, and stayed. This was observed in our first pub (a small place near the train station, I don’t recall the name) where the order of the day was the early kick-off between Rangers and Dundee.

We didn’t stay long in the centre as were keen to get to the ground, which we heard had a good bar (always prefer to line the pockets of a small club than a pub chain).

Steel Park is quite a walk from the centre of Corby. We were lucky that day, a mate giving us a lift to the ground, on the outskirts of town, in amongst a business park and leisure facilities.

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At the entrance to the ground we came in, there were two pitch side areas along the left of the ground (including behind the goal, where the bar could be found), a small terrace opposite, but quite a large seated stand to our right. Along one side of the ground, it appears as if there is a second stadium next door (I believe it is a leisure centre).

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Through the turnstile (only £10 to get in) there is a small club shop, with what has to be the weirdest mannequin I have seen anywhere on display!

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Prior to the match we frequented the club bar, a friendly place with a good range of beers on tap. Corby were (and still are) bottom of the National League North (Conference North to us traditionals) so I wasn’t expecting a huge turnout. I was wrong, and was assured that often there are more. The weather that day was pretty treacherous; freezing cold with constant showers and wind. That may have been a factor.

The score was 2-1 to North Ferriby within 15 minutes of the game kicking off – proper schoolboy scoreline, with the dozen or so North Ferriby United fans in a good mood. Not that surprising given North Ferriby were sitting in the play-off places. Corby didn’t look like a bottom of the table team though, with their fans urging them to attack and pull something back.

I liked their fans; the ‘Northern abuse’ hurled at Ferriby’s players was decent. There was also a cracking moment when a Corby player went down near the box in an attempt to win a free-kick – real Ronaldo stuff, feigning injury. A couple of dozen or so home fans shouting at him that they had paid money to watch him roll around soon cured whatever injury he had.

It finished 4-1 to the visitors though. The game memorable in reality more for the big skies created by the weather than the football. It was good to see Ferriby again, the last time being their FA Trophy Final win at Wembley last year. For Corby though, it looks like they will be going down.

Steel Park, whilst quite far away from the centre of town, is well worth a trip; decent fans, a nice neat little ground, good bar, and palatable enough food kiosk.

Other photos from the day

Gone Fishing….

I’m on my holibobs.

See you next season!

In the meantime, please check out my posts from last season:

PREMIER LEAGUE

– Arsenal (The Emirates) – October 14; January 15;

– Chelsea (Stamford Bridge) – December 14;

– Crystal Palace (Selhurst Park) – April 15;

– Liverpool (Anfield) – October 14;

– Tottenham Hotspur – May 15;

– West Bromwich Albion – January 15;

– West Ham United – January 15;

CONFERENCE SOUTH

– Bromley FC (Hayes Lane) – November 14;

ISTHMIAN PREMIER LEAGUE

– Dulwich Hamlet (Champion Hill) – October 14;

SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION

– Biggleswade Town (Carlsberg Stadium) – September 14;

– Hitchin Town (Top Field) – December 14;

GERMANY

– 1860 Munich (Allianz Arena) – February 15;

– FC Bayern Frauen (Grünwalder Stadion) – February 15;

OTHER

– Wembley Stadium, London – March 15;

Wem-ber-leeey

Sunday 29th March 2015 – North Ferriby United 3p – 3 Wrexham AFC

FA Trophy Final @ Wembley Stadium, London

London hosted an all time classic of a match on the last weekend of March in 2015. If like me you travelled through Central London that evening, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was Brazil’s 1-0 victory over Chile at The Emirates, given the sheer number of Brazilian flags flying around the tube.

But no. For a fraction of the price (£20 I paid for my ticket) you could have seen a match with, as the saying goes, everything. Second-half comeback, extra time, penalties, the underdog lifting the trophy. Real Roy of the Rovers stuff.

That match was the FA Trophy Final 2015, at our National Stadium, Wembley. North Ferriby United of the Conference North vs Wrexham of the Conference Premier.

Living in the South I have been fortunate enough to visit Wembley for all manner of events; firstly the 2008 Play-Off Final (The Windass Final) as well as two trips last season for Hull’s FA Cup run, over a dozen England matches, Rugby League World Cup, Olympic Football, a Groupon Tour and an Oasis concert……! I have very mixed views on it; it is a pain to get to (and away from!), the surrounding area is pretty ugly, there are very few watering holes nearby. But at the same time, the very act of getting to Wembley means your club must have done something right. It has that prestige about it, and as much as you don’t think it will get to you, you’ll do well to hold back a tear when the teams come out.

I probably wouldn’t have given this match a second thought had North Ferriby not been present. Most City fans have a soft spot for Ferriby; never really rivals (historically quite a few divisions apart) but friendly opponents in the pre-season curtain raiser, the Billy Bly Trophy, and home to many an ex-City pro. It is nice to see them do well, and they exemplify everything a lower league club should be. Well run, focus on youth and a community feel to it. So I had to go, they were my team for the weekend.

Pre-match first though….

Getting to Wembley from Central London is relatively straightforward, but for the full experience it is recommended you go via Wembley Park Station, so you can take the famous walk down Wembley Way. These days that involves also navigating the stands selling ‘Half and Half Scarves’, Wembley owned burger joints, and for the more subscribed games, layers of ticket sellers. Still, great place to hang the flags and saviour the ground.

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As mentioned previously, suppage around Wembley is quite a hard task….

For the larger games, fans are designated pubs, but these are often at least a 15 minute walk from the ground. The alternative is £4.50 bottles of Carlsberg inside the ground, or seeing if Frankie and Benny’s might serve you.

For previous visits with City however, there is one ‘institution’ that has achieved something of cult status; The Crystal Club. This is in effect an old sports hall, that on matchdays is turned into a drinking venue, selling warm multipack cans from a hatch inside. From 200 people strong renditions of Caravan of Love, Eminem style chanting, and the great view of the Cemex plant from the beer garden, whilst disgusting (both toilets were out-of-order 2 hours in on final day last season), it was the place to go. So it was there that we went.

Despite checking however, it was closed…!

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Memories…

We made the mistake that day of heading to the retail complex to the right of Wembley Park Station – nothing. Perhaps we were looking in the wrong place? But then we stumbled upon a place with a sign outside “3 beers for £10” – BARGAIN! In we went…..it was a bakery. But it was raining so had to do, and so we sat drinking our warm Coronas in amongst couples having afternoon tea and a baby shower.

Watered (but not fed, beer and cake didn’t seem a good mix) we headed for the ground. Wembley is huge inside, not just pitch side, but concourses too. It really is a well designed ground, and there was a growing sense of excitement in the Ferriby end, who on that day were positioned to the left of the Royal Box.

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The attendance was just over 14,000 – the majority being Wrexham fans behind the goal to the right of my seat, but with, by my estimate, c. 5,000 in Green and White. I have to confess, I was sceptical pre-match that the low numbers would mean the stadium echoed a bit. I have questioned previously how it is viable for The FA to host such matches at Wembley given its sheer size – surely it would make more sense to host somewhere like Villa Park or Elland Road? Fine, it still wouldn’t sell out – but would make for a better atmosphere.

I admit, I was a snob, and I was proved wrong. Both sets of fans made a decent amount of noise – and why should non-league clubs, and their fans, be deprived of their big day out? It is schoolboy stuff to score the winner in a cup final at Wembley. So what then if the FA makes a loss on it!

To the game….

The first half started well for Ferriby, but it was Wrexham who took the lead and were most dominant going into the break. When they went 2-0 up shortly after the restart, I feared a drubbing similar to the season before, when Cambridge United put four past Gosport.

But that’s when the game really got going….

Some will say Wrexham switched off. Some will say Ferriby went for it. It was a mixture of the two I’d say, perhaps a smidging more of the latter. On the 75th minute, Ferriby were awarded a penalty, and fan favourite Liam King duly did the honours. The comeback was on – but I don’t think anybody really believed it at the time.

Ten minutes later, substitute striker Ryan Kendall grabbed the second, sending the Ferriby fans wild and the game into extra time. The Wrexham fans were stunned, their players too. It was Ferriby’s to win now, and it felt almost disadvantageous that the Welsh side would get a breather.

The Ferriby attack continued, and in front of the Wrexham fans, Kendall struck again. Manager Billy Heath and his staff joined in the celebration this time, and the place was alive. Were the part-timers going to go all the way? Unfortunately Wrexham had other ideas…

The team in red went for the equalizer in the second half of extra time and got it. In fairness, Ferriby were running on gas by this point and did well to hang on. But it felt something of an injustice that the match went to penalties. This would be a horrible way to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

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Penners!

I can’t remember the running order, or who scored / missed first, but even though I didn’t support them, it was a nerve-wracking experience. Ferriby did though win, thanks to goalkeeper Adam Nicklin (who I have since heard works in a hotel bar -??? – if true, I imagine he’ll be getting “…and one for yourself…” for some time to come).

North Ferriby United – 2015 FA Trophy Winners!!!

What a game and what a day. It felt surreal to see them do it; the press beforehand had only really focussed on Wrexham, and to see a former league club humbled in this manner was truly enjoyable, particularly when it is a club just down the road from your hometown. I felt like a proper plastic fan at the start, but by the end I’m pretty sure part of me was Ferriby. For their true fans, when you spend your season trawling the likes of Bradford PA and Hyde United, wining in the luxury of Wembley must have been an amazing experience.

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So that is Wembley. Unless you attend a match like this, or En-ger-laaand, it is a ground tick that is dependent upon the success of your club, which doesn’t come to many. Forget the lack of pubs, the concrete exterior and the overpriced merchandise, it is a ‘memory making machine’. I’ve experienced both the good and the bad side of that. It was nice to walk back down Wembley Way again with a positive one, healing in part the sense of gutting after last season.

And again, congratulations to North Ferriby United and their cracking fans – see you at Church Road, for a long overdue ground tick, next season!

Other photos from the day

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