A stop on the way back from a holiday found me at Spalding to see local team Spalding United (The Tulips) play Loughborough Dynamo in the first matches of the Northern Premier League. Midlands Division which had seen Dynamo and Spalding moved to as part of the Non League Pyramid reorganisation.
This is a very good ground not far from the town centre with plenty of room and a good seating area, club house and food stall. The pitch looked very flat but the good grass cover was begining to yellow in a few patches due to the lack of rain. The temperature at 22 degrees with a light wind and an overcast grey sky made it perfect conditions for playing and watching.
There has been a football club in Spalding since 1905 and they initially played locally until joining the Peterborough & District league in 1930. Since that date with promotions, relegatiions and League re-organisations they have played in the Northamptonshire League, the United Counties League, the EasternCounties League, the Central Alliance, the, Midland League, the Northern Counties East League, the Midland Division of the Southern Leaguè and most recently the Northern Premier League. True wanderers of the Non League football system because of their geography being on the perimeter of many leagues. Throughout this time if they fell on hard times financially or football wise it was the United Counties League that welcomed them back and gave them stability. They should change their name to Spalding Nomads.
I visited Loughborough Dynamo last season and was impressed by their set up and play. I have written about their history in a previous blog but just to say that they were formed in 1955 and can also be called the nomads due to their frequent change of grounds but are now firmly at home at the ADT Stadium in Watermead Lane.
Spalding United 2 Loughborough Dynamo 1
It was a sad start to the game as we all took part in a minutes applause to comemorate the three back room staff at the club who had passed away since the last league game.
The football seemed to be suffering from a hangover as neither team seemed to make any progress in the first 15 minutes but Loughborough were begining to make a mark. Perhaps neither team wanted to make mistakes on this season opener but on 22 minutes Curtis Burrows stepped forward to take a free kick to the right of the D. He struck the ball brilliantly around the wall and into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Loughborough now had more chances to further their lead but a through ball to Marcus Smetherson to Marcus Maddison enabled him to show his EFL credentials with a well slotted ball past the goalkeeper. Both sides now had chances but it was Loughborough who must have left the field at halftime feeling that thet should have made more of their chances.
The ground staff need some ball maintenance training as the referee discarded some of those on offer for poor inflation.
The second half was again evenly matched although the referees intervention in booking the lively No9 for Loughborough, for backing on, pointing to various points of the field to denote he felt it had been ongoing was somewhat harsh. This did take the sting out of their forward play and they did not threaten as often. This was a particularly poignant booking when the opposite No 9 Greg Smith continually questioned the referees decisions all game along with swearing that could be heard from the stand.
It was left to a piece of footballing skill to win the game for Spalding when Scott Floydd overlapping on the right took a pass that looked well covered but he feigned right went left and passing his marker was able to score on 82 minutes from an acute angle.
A good win for Spalding with Loughborough happy with their first outing of the league saeson but disapointed at not getting a point.
The attendance of 189 was a dissapointment considering that 1400 had been in the game for a pre season friendly with Peterborough in mid week.
The chips were hot, large, thick, no taste of grease but with a squashy mess inside. Unfortunately I scored a lowly 50 when in this town in the fenland with much food growing, processing and distribution I expected more.