My Grounds

Friday, 17 November 2017

March Town United - GER Sports Ground

March Town United FC
GER Sports Ground
Robingoodfellows Lane
PE15 8HS

Ground: 10
Date: 19th March 2016
March Town United 1-1 Haverhill Borough
Eastern Counties League Division 1

March Town United FC - History

March Town United were founded in 1885 under the name March Town, adding United to their name after World War 2 when they moved to the GER Sports Ground, which had been home to March GER United prior to the war.

In 1948, the club joined the United Counties League, winning Division 1 in the 1953/54 season before joining the Eastern Counties League the following season. In the 1987/88 season - the final season of the ECL being one division - March won the league title. They then stayed in the Premier Division until suffering relegation to Division 1 in the 1996/97 season, where they have remained ever since.

March Town United's best FA Cup runs came in 1955 and 1978, with the club reaching the 1st Round on both occasions (losing to Brentford in 1955 and Swindon Town in 1978), but they haven't competed in the FA Cup since the 2012/13 season. In the club's six seasons in the FA Trophy, they never progressed further than the 2nd Qualifying Round, which they managed twice. In the FA Vase, the club's best run was to the 3rd Round, which was achieved in their first season in the competition in the 1975/76 season and again in the 1988/89 season, losing to City of Norwich OBU in 1975 and Sudbury Town in 1988. However, they have struggled in the competition in recent years, having not won a single game in the FA Vase since the 2009/10 season (although there were two seasons in this period - 2014/15 and 2015/16 - when they didn't compete at all).

My Visit

Several years before my visit (and before I started groundhopping), I had passed by the ground while visiting my dad, who was living in March at the time. Naturally, given that my interests hadn't yet turned to non-league, I paid it little consideration other than to acknowledge it was there. However, once I started groundhopping, this was one of the grounds I most wanted to visit. So, when I was looking for a game in March of 2016, I decided to fully embrace the irony once I saw this fixture.

However, from what I remember (I couldn't find a match report again), the game was a disappointing and scrappy affair, with the players of both sides seemingly more intent on fighting among themselves and arguing with the opposition and match officials than actually playing any football. March took the lead at some point in the game before conceding a late equaliser from a free kick.

The Ground

The GER Sports Ground is well-known among groundhoppers, and it's clear to see why. The massive main stand is - supporting pillars aside - absolutely fantastic and very unique, although its age is starting to show as around a third of it was closed off to spectators when I visited. However, even with that restriction, I would say that the stand could easily hold more than its stated capacity of 500. As an aside, I don't really know why it is painted blue, when March play in yellow and black shirts.

There's an area of covered standing directly across from the main stand, which looks as if it could hold around 200 people, maybe more. Other than that, the rest of the ground is open hard standing, with the only other notable features being a small grass bank behind the far goal and a strange brick-built press box next to the main stand.

The ground probably has an overall capacity of around 3,000 now, but the record attendance at the ground was 7,500 for an FA Cup game against King's Lynn in 1956 (it wouldn't at all surprise me if the main stand was there even back then).

Overall, it's a fantastic ground that I would strongly recommend getting to while the main stand is still there, as it is definitely decaying to the point that I imagine the club will soon have to consider replacing it (or, hopefully, renovating it instead). 


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