My Grounds

Friday, 20 April 2018

Eynesbury Rovers - Alfred Hall Memorial Ground

Eynesbury Rovers FC
Alfred Hall Memorial Ground
Hall Road
St Neots
PE19 3SF

Ground: 45
Date: 19th April 2018
Eynesbury Rovers 0-0 Yaxley
United Counties League Premier Division

Eynesbury Rovers FC - History

Eynesbury Rovers were founded in 1897, initially joining the Biggleswade & District League before switching to the St Neots Junior League. They won this league in 1911, joining the Bedford & District League at some point afterwards. The club won Division 2 of this league on three occasions (1926/27, 1930/31 and 1931/32) before joining Division 2 of the South Midlands League in 1934.

The club finished as runners-up in their first season in Division 2 to earn promotion to Division 1, where they remained until the outbreak of World War 2. After the war, the club transferred to the United Counties League, before transferring to the Eastern Counties League in 1952. Near the end of the decade, financial problems forced the club to revert to amateur status, and this was followed by six seasons of struggle, starting in the 1957/58 season and continuing until the 1962/63 season.

After finishing bottom of the league in 1963, the club returned to the United Counties League. However, this did little to improve the club's fortunes, with the club finishing in the bottom two in five of the next eight seasons. This led to relegation to Division 2 in 1971/72, which was then renamed Division 1 before the club won it in 1977 to return to the Premier Division.

The club remained in the Premier Division for almost 25 years, but after finishing bottom in the 2000/01 season, they were relegated back to Division 1. They then remained in Division 1 until the 2013/14 season, when a second-place finish was enough to earn promotion back to the Premier Division. They have remained in the Premier Division ever since, recording a highest finish of 5th last season and looking likely to finish 6th this season.

In the FA Cup, the club progressed as far as the 4th Qualifying Round in the 1954/55 season, beating Wolverton Town & BR and Biggleswade District before losing to Cambridge United. As for the FA Vase, the club's best run saw them reach the 3rd Round in the 1994/95 season, beating Holbeach United, Hemel Hempstead and Spalding United before losing to Halstead Town. 

My Visit

After this game was originally postponed on Easter Monday, I was hoping that it or the Kirby Muxloe game would be rearranged on a reasonable date (i.e. one before going back to University) and, fortunately for me, this one was quickly announced as rearranged for the 19th. So I asked my dad a week or so ago if we could go and he assented.

I got picked up just before 6:30pm last night, having just finished dinner, and after an easy drive down the A1 we arrived at the ground just after 7pm, eventually finding a place to park nearby (the car park was very small and already full when we arrived, so we had to park in the residential street leading to the ground). 

We each paid £5 for admission, and I paid £1 for a programme, which turned out to be a re-issue from the games between the two sides that didn't go ahead over the Easter period (the cup tie we had to pull out of at the end of March and the Easter Monday game). I then did my usual circuit of photos to kill some time before kick-off, but even once I was done there was still 25 minutes or so until kick-off, so we went to stand in front of the main stand as we waited for kick-off.

Here's my heavily-biased match report on what was a dismal game, in which we (Yaxley) were stifled by a frustratingly-resilient Eynesbury side:

We could have been 2-0 down in 20 minutes if not for goalkeeper Ollie Sutton making two excellent saves, as we made an utterly terrible start to the game and just generally looked really nervous. Eynesbury got in our faces from the off and we didn't seem ready for that at all. We slowly grew into the game as the half progressed, having a goal disallowed for offside two minutes before half-time and creating a few other good chances as well.

The second half saw us make a much better start as we began to push Eynesbury further and further back, with it becoming more and more apparent as the half progressed that they did not have any intention whatsoever of trying to win the game. The progression of the half - and the steady increase in chances created by Dan Cotton, Matt Sparrow and Tom Waumsley - also saw Eynesbury resort to more and more desperate measures to stop us, resorting to constant manhandling and shirt-pulling to hinder our attacking efforts wherever possible. This eventually led to former Yaxley player Michael Mackrell elbowing Sparrow, with the referee - who had long since lost control of the game, if he ever had it to begin with that is - only opting to give him a yellow, before allowing him to get away with a blatant shove off the ball mere minutes later. He did eventually receive his second yellow, but by the time he did the game was essentially over, so it didn't matter in the slightest.

So, there you have it. It was a terrible match and a less-than-ideal result for us in our promotion push, and much of the circa-60 crowd went home disappointed and frustrated with the result (it seemed like at least half the crowd, if not more, were backing Yaxley last night). Even so, it still remains in our hands to continue our promotion push, and all we can do is attempt to bounce back tomorrow at home against St. Andrews.

Despite the result, this was still a decent groundhop: doing a midweek, evening game for once made for a nice change of pace (as did the hot, sunny weather, which I'm hoping sticks around for the rest of the season now) and the ground was very good as well.

I've got two more groundhops planned for this season: the first will be next Saturday, and I'll be choosing one of Billericay Town, Eastbourne Town, Lewes and Marlow as my destination, depending on whether Matt is available or not and how well the trains are running; then, I'll finish the season with a Yaxley cup final for the second season running, with us once again in the UCL Knockout Cup Final, this time against Leicester Nirvana at Raunds Town.

The Ground

Alfred Hall Memorial Ground is one of the better Step 5 grounds I've visited so far, with various areas of cover on three sides of the ground: on the near side is an impressive main stand with a seating capacity of around 200, and next to this is an area of covered standing in front of the clubhouse, which likely provides cover for a further 300 or so people; on the dugout side of the ground is a smaller area of covered standing, which could probably hold 50-100 people; behind the near goal, an imposing new stand is currently in the process of being built, although at this stage it is mostly scaffolding with around 200 or so seats inside.

The rest of the ground is open hard standing, with some work also seeming to be about to get underway behind the far goal, as the railing at this end has been replaced by temporary fencing and seemed to be intended to be closed off, although that didn't stop a few people standing behind the far goal in the second half.

The record attendance at the ground was 5,000 for a friendly match against Fulham in 1955, a game which Sir Stanley Matthews played in for the home side.

Overall, the ground is more than good enough for Step 5 and would be an excellent addition at Step 4 as well, should the club ever find themselves at that level in the future; they could definitely do with a bigger car park if that does happen, though.


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