Wednesday 1 September 2010

Baldock Town Letchworth

I visited Baldock Town Letchworth at the end of the 2009/10 season, for the final of the Anagram Records Feeder Leagues Trophy, where Padbury United defeated The 61 FC, both from the lower reaches of the Spartan South Midlands League, by the odd goal in five.

The ground is actually the headquarters of the Hertfordshire Football Association, with Baldock being the tenants. Baldock play in the Herts County League Premier Division, & must have the best home ground in it by the proverbial mile.

My only previous visit here was way back in 1976, for an Fa Cup second qualifying round game, when Dulwich Hamlet beat the now defunct Letchworth Garden City.

It's just past the petrol station.

No messing about whose home it is.

This game was on Sunday 23rd May, but the fixtures board hadn't been updated from the previous day.

Another county sign, on the exterior of the main stand.

Nice gates. No doubt paid for by many yellow cards!

Ah.....there is a Baldock sign!

The entrance here is to the left of the stand, which you can see on the right.

Dear oh dear...this is minor non-league!

It was an extremely warm day, so I plonked myself down for some respite from the heat in the main stand, before beginning our tour of the ground. Here we look over to the far side, with covered terracing along it.

To our left there is a grass slope & some cover behind the goal. Beyond the trees in the far corner is the rather more modest home of Letchworth Garden City Eagles.

Turning the other way we look down the seats.

Time to kick off!

Leftwards again ,we see the cover at the far end. Making this a ground with cover on all four sides.

At half time I begin our tour round the stadium. Here we look down the seats, before we head the other direction, going clockwise round the ground.

Past the stand is this open hard standing & County offices, with a tea bar at the bottom.

A nice patio area & tables for you to enjoy your snacks.

Past this is the officials' car park.

Note the netting. Not to prevent stray footballs going flying, but to protect the cars of the men in suits!

Raching the first corner we look over the still quite lush pitch. not bad, for end of season.

Behind the goal there is a fairly gentle grass bank, with a small covered area, set back behind the goal.

Here we approach it from up above.

Moving toward the front we glance back to the main side.

Then see the covered terrace from the front.

Standing up on the steps our eyes turn to the covered terrace along the side.

And back over to the main stand.

Moving along now, we see back as we head round.

More well maintained grass banking round to the corner.

Along the side there is hard standing at the front.

From this 'corner flag' we see over to the seats.

Official County corner flags.

Now along the side we glance back behind the goal.

We've now reached a nice stretch of covered terrace, fully concreted in front.

Not many shallow steps, but more than adequate.

Now at the halfway line, we look across to the stand.

Clearly the County stand.

As we advance the cover provides a nice respite from the hot sun.

Beyond is the grass bank again, and time to top up your tan at half time!

Here we look across to the changing rooms and club house, which is adjacent to the main stand.

Almost at the corner now. Behind us is another turnstile entrance.

Before we turn the next corner we look back along the terraced side.

Stepping back a little we see over the pitch from this corner.

Now we turn behind the second goal, hard standing at the front, sloping grass behind, with more cover further along.

From behind this goal we get a shot of the larger covered terrace.

To the left, we see the goal & the stand beyond.

We have now reached the cover at this end.

Standing under it, in the shade, we see down the pitch.

And look across it.

From here we can see the players' tunnel, along the last side.

Almost in the corner is this small area of cover, presumably a designated area for disabled spectators.

Here we see down the main side touchline.

And back along behind the goal.

Before another glance over the pitch from the corner.

Along the last side it's all hard standing. No grass at all.

From here we see both structures behind the goal.

A little bit of match action.

It looks hot along the side!

Another angle of the main stand.

Padbury have scored again.

Some of the 'groundhoppers' who were in attendance.

But this lady certainly wasn't a neutral!

And this was the 'real thing'!

Don't worry, the lad in the sling was only the fourth official!

Not many smiles from the beaten side.

The happier victors, who wore their own cup final shirts.

Raising the cup...

Big cheer!

Before the champagne celebrations begin!

A deserved victory swig!

A rather 'rag tag' team photo!

Now, with the game over, & as I've already sneaked on the pitch, I walk round and take some snaps from this side of the fence. Behind the goal, to the right of the seats.

Along the far side.

Obligatory anti racism message. Nothing wrong with that, but all too often it's token gestures, rather than real combatting...

The cover down the other end...the first end we saw.

And back down to the other end, for the disabled enclosure.

Not forgetting the main stand, of course.

A little closer here, with the dugouts in front.

Traditional sunken ones.

Back over the barriers again, we see the front of the stand.

Moving back up into the seats, we see the victorious Padbury crowd milling about in front of the bar.

Before looking down the stand from this end.

At the front again, they've left their balloons behind!

Officious signs...well it is County HQ!

And there's more!

Back to where we started, & it's time to leave.