Travelling back from a holiday in Scotland we stopped at the beautiful market town of
Richmond in North Yorkshire. This is the constituency and nearby home of Rishi Sunak but also to Richmond Town FC.
Richmond Town’s ground featured in a book bought for me as a Christmas present, ‘British Football’s Greatest Grounds’ but alas that ground with the stunning backdrop of Richmond Castle is no longer used by the senior team in the town.
The club have moved to a purpose built facility at the back of an education complex on the edge of the town. This new all weather pitch is now home to sports for the students, a growing number of junior football sides of all ages and sexes, over 40’s, walking football and the senior men’s and women’s teams. The whole set up is impressive with high spec floodlights and built in foundations to build a small seated area should Richmond Town progress through the leagues. I was told that the move to the new ground was partly due to the local council not being in agreement with the football clubs request to develop the old ground e.g. the erection of floodlights. The club did point out that the old ground had been used in the Middle Ages as a Jousting arena and therefore had always been the sport centre of it’s day. Would lights have detracted from the view of Richmond Castle is a matter of individual opinion.
Whatever my thoughts I was at the Dave Clarke Arena to see Richmond Town play Darlington Railway Athletic FC in the Wearside League Division One
Richmond Town were formed 77 years ago although football was played at the old Earls Orchard field a few years earlier. The club has like many gone through some name changes along the way and became more main stream when they built a club house in 1976 and after some years in Darlington and Teeside Leagues they made progress to the Weardale League in 2012. They are very much a community club that does not pay its players but are striving to get the opportunity to move up the football ladder.
Darlington Railway were formed a little while before Richmond starting just after the First World War and have played in Darlington and Teeside Leagues along with a short foray into the Northern League. Joining the Wearside League in 1990 was only temporary as they stopped playing 2 years later only to reform and progress as high as The Northern League Division One before a few demotions that find them back where they are today.
The pitch was perfectly flat, of a composite material and was lined out for different games and sizes of pitch. To start there was a perfectly blue sky, no wind and a temperature of 23 degrees but some dark clouds swirled in and although it threatened rain it stayed dry.
The paying crowd of 22 at £3 per head didn’t cover the £70 pitch hire and £130/40 for the officials.
Richmond Town 4 Darlington Railway Athletic 2
Both teams settled quickly and played some bright controlled football, no kick and rush here.
Richmond applied the most pressure and the quick Eddie Lewington took control of a through ball and ran on into the goal area to place the ball along the ground to the goalkeepers left for a one nil lead for the home team.
Richmond extended their lead on 35 minutes when a pin point cross was met by Tom Carnegie- Brown whose bullet header had the net bulging.
Richmond started the second half two nil ahead but this was pegged back after 2 minutes when Darlington’s Nathan Scott had the space to tap home. and they continued to threaten. However Richmond increased their lead when on 58 minutes Luke McCormack took the ball wide on the left only to cut it back into the net. Darlington however went straight back down the other end when their Will Hewson did the same as Luke McCormack but this time from the right hand side of the goal.
With just a few minutes left Eddie Lewington received the ball just inside the Darlington half and ran towards goal shooting from the edge of the goalkeepers area and hit the ball into the corner of the net. So Eddie finished the scoring as he had started it 80 minutes earlier.
The quality of the football was really good and I left having enjoyed the game and the facilities which appear to be the now and the future.
A thank you to the man who was doing the gate, looking after the officials etc. He welcomed me and we had a great conversation and without his input I couldn’t have written this. A great ambassador for the club.
No chips here, the club have lost the income from a food offering in moving to the new ground. But a coffee was on hand.