My Grounds

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Wisbech Town - Fenland Stadium


Wisbech Town FC
Fenland Stadium
Lynn Road
Wisbech
Cambridgeshire
PE14 7AL


Ground: 16
Date: 20th September 2016
Wisbech Town 1-4 Yaxley
United Counties League Premier Division

Wisbech Town FC - History

Records show that there was a Wisbech Town in existence in the 1890s, but the current incarnation of the club was founded in 1920 when three local clubs merged. The club initially joined the Peterborough & District League, winning it five times before turning semi-professional and joining the United Counties League in 1935, winning the league in their first season.

In 1947 and 1948, Wisbech once again won the United Counties League, but in 1950 they were transferred to the Eastern Counties League, before being transferred to the Midland League two years later. In 1958, the club were transferred to the Southern League, joining its North-West Division, finishing 9th and being placed in the Premier Division as part of a reorganisation of the league.

This was followed by a decade or so of yo-yoing between Division 1 and the Premier Division, before Wisbech rejoined the Eastern Counties League in 1970. They experienced some success at this level, winning the league title three times and finishing runners-up a couple of times as well. When this happened in 1996, the club were promoted into the Midland Division of the Southern League, where they stayed until relegation in the 2001/02 season.

Wisbech stayed in the Eastern Counties League until the end of the 2012/13 season when, after finishing 2nd in the Premier Division, they opted for a lateral transfer to the United Counties League Premier Division rather than accepting promotion. Since then, the club has recorded a highest finish of 3rd in the United Counties League Premier Division, which was achieved in the 2014/15 season.

Wisbech Town have experienced significant success in the FA Cup, having reached the 2nd Round on two occasions (1957/58 and 1997/98), as well as reaching the 1st Round on seven occasions, most recently in the 1996/97 season. In the FA Trophy, the club has been as far as the 2nd Round in the 1999/2000 season, albeit only because they entered the competition at that stage in that season (they lost 2-1 to Bishop Auckland). In the FA Vase, the club's best run has been to the Semi-Finals, which was achieved in 1984/85 and 1985/86, though the club has also reached the Quarter Finals twice, most recently in the 2013/14 season.

My Visit

With this being another reasonably local option - and with my stated aim of visiting more grounds in Yaxley's league - it came as no surprise when my dad chose to take me to this game. What also may not come as a surprise (based on our track record for it up to this point) is that we got lost trying to find the ground, although in this case it only happened because Google Maps kept on leading us to the site of the old ground rather than the new one.

In any case, we got to the ground around 15 minutes before kick-off - by which point the Sun had already completely set (which is why my photos aren't particularly good, although the poor floodlights didn't exactly help much) - and I went around the ground to take some photos before kick-off. By the time the game kicked off, we had settled in the standing area of the stand behind the goal Yaxley were shooting towards, with most of the large contingent of Wisbech fans situated in the stand behind the goal their team were shooting towards.



The game was an excellent one, although the scoreline was perhaps slightly harsh on Wisbech. Other than that vague detail, I remember that one of the Yaxley goals - I believe it was Matt Sparrow's - was an overhead kick, so here's a match report from the Yaxley website:


Although no-one inside the Cuckoos camp would admit it, this was a big match for the coaching team from Leading Drove.

That Brett Whaley left Yaxley for Wisbech in the close season of 2015 was a surprise. That he left there to return and replace Ian Benjamin after a sticky start at the Elgoods Stadim was even more of one. 
He returned to Yaxley early in his reign and was beaten 5-0 by a side purring at the time. With the shoe on the other foot there was to be no slip ups from Whaley this time as his side built a decent three goal lead before the home side got back in the game. 

It was a pretty even first half but the Cuckoos had struck first through Phil Stebbing, who is in very prolific form. 

Wisbech would have still fancied their chances in the second period but a Ross Watson finish early on left them a bigger hill to climb.

Matt Sparrow added a third before the hint of a comeback when Jon Fairweather scored for Wisbech. That was extinguished in time added on by Dan Cotton.

The Ground

For a new build - the ground was only completed back in 2010 - the Fenland Stadium is an excellent ground that is certainly good enough for Step 4 at the minimum, and is currently one of (if not) the best in the United Counties League. The 100-seater Atcost stand is fairly typical of many new builds and would have been perfectly sufficient for Step 5.

However, the Fenland Stadium also has two other covered areas, one behind each goal and each extending almost from corner to corner. Each of these areas mostly consists of covered standing - enough for at least 200-300 people - though one of them (the Haart stand) also has seating for around 100 people, for some reason.

Other than this, the rest of the ground is open hard standing, although there is some additional cover under the clubhouse if needed. Overall, the ground probably has a capacity of around 2,000, although there is no information on what the record attendance at the new ground is; at the old ground, though, the record attendance was 8,044 for a Midland League match against Peterborough United in 1957.

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