A morning ground inspection put paid to my planned game so looking back to the previous weeks game at the incredible Loughborough. University I had read that their opponents Eastwood Community had an all weather pitch and good facilities.
So it was a change of plan and Google Maps to get me there. The lady on Google maps I call Betty, a long story, often she confuses me and this was no exception. Being told my destination was on my left but all that was there was a fire station belied the fact it was hidden by this building. Turning off google and driving around the block I eventually found a large sign directing me in.
Easy parking, although it was nearly full, led to a short walk past a large park to the ground. As I expected this is a good facility for this level of football.
An artificial pitch that when laid there was an attempt made to even the end to end slope which has resulted in a slope from one end to the centre and the other half being flat which initially looks a little odd. One side has a very large and well appointed club house, a steep comfortable seating area and a food bar. There is hard standing on all of the three other sides with cover at both ends and a very small covered seating area on the far side where some of the seats are smashed.
The view from near the top of the stand is really good as I looked out on the grey clouds that were building on this relatively cold, still day.
Eastwood Community FC have only been in existence since 2014 when they took on the mantle of football in the town after Eastwood Town folded. Eastwood Town had reached as high as the Northern Premier League. Community play at Haltbrooke Stadium, a modern facility with a 3g pitch. The Stadium also has great hospitality rooms to allow for a good income stream from off pitch activities. They have risen through the Central Midland League and are now placed in the United Counties League. They look certain to be contenders in this league in the future.
Newark FC have had a chequered career starting life as A. J. Simpson in 1901 in the Ironmonger’s League and the next mention of the club is as Worthington Simpson in 1935 in the Nottingham Spartan League. After fourteen years they moved to the Notts Alliance where they had some success and further name changes to IDP Newark and then Newark Flowserve in 2001. By 2004 Newark Flowserve joined the Central Midland League but lased only 5 years before joining the Notts Senior League. The senior team was reformed in 2013 and successive promotions saw them playing in the East Midlands Counties League where they soon achieved promotion to the Midland League. They had to drop the Flowserve name in 2020 at the request of the F.A. due to their sponsorship rules and with the Leagues restructure now play in the United Counties Football League. The team play at Basford United’s ground after their leased Lowfields ground in Balderton was subject to a plan to build housing. Long term this ground sharing 25 miles from their base will be difficult to sustain and efforts are being made to try to move back nearer to their roots.
Eastwood Community 1 Newark FC 2
Saturday 5th March 2022 Kick Off 3 pm
United Counties North Premier Division
Badgers v Highwaymen : League Position 14th v 15th
Eastwood, red shirts and white shorts – Newark, royal blue shirts and shorts.
Eastwood initially looked as if they would take charge of the game but on 12 minutes the Newark forward, Josh Mundell, who had been a hand full, passed the defenders to the byline and cut back the ball where the striker, James Berrett was checked and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty. Mason Rowley stepped forward and hit the ball into the centre of the goal with the goalkeeper diving to his right. Both teams created chances but the defences were well up to it and the score remained at 0.1 at Half Time.
Eastwood did not seem to have the same confidence of the previous week but that appeared to be because the opposition were not letting them play.
Eastwood pressed at the start of the second half but on the hour a long ball forward was chased by Newark’s Richemone Sylla who controlled the ball and took the defender and goalkeper to the right of the goal and then crossed the ball for Nyle Blake to simply tap in.
As the game neared the end the heavens opened and a biblical deluge that had threatened all afternoon lasted for only five minutes.
Eastwood now took control and forced successive corners but could not beat the resolute Newark defence until on 80 minutes when Ben Henderson received the ball on the left, strode forward past lunging defenders and hit a powerful shot past Sam Andrew from range. Eastwood pushed for an equaliser but had no clear chances and Newark went home happy. My man of the match was Dean Freeman Newark’s centre back who marshalled his line and never missed a tackle or header.
The chips were crispy, fluffy inside, golden, tasty, an amazing amount for £1.50 but disappointedly a little cool but a good score of 81.