The long march to football.

Dropped off by my wife at Southwell City F.C.’s ground early I was drinking a coffee in their new immaculate club house when my phone went. It was my wife to say that when I left the car I had taken the keys with me and she was now parked outside Southwell Minster on double yellow lines and couldn’t restart the car. Initial panic turned into let’s get this sorted but a quick check on Google showed me she was 1.7 miles and 33 minutes by foot away.

Southwell had moved to their new out of town site in the Autumn of 2021, 18 months ago. A taxi would be the answer but after 4 calls and the only chance of collection was by a firm in Newark and they were 30 mins away my decision to start walking was vindicated. 25 minutes later, I reached her, not too much talk of my stupidity, as we quickly drove back to the ground to have only missed a minute. The loo unfortunately called me and coming out of the clubhouse I found that Sothwell had taken the lead. Time to relax and watch the football.

As I said earlier the Centenary Sports Ground is new and still being developed and it certainly looks the part with good car parking space, lovely club house incudingva large TV showing the West Ham v Chelsea game and hard standing for fans. Evidently a seated stand should be erected soon. It’s a shame that only 91 people had paid to see the game and see the home team take on the league leaders, Aylestone Park. Aylestone had only lost three games in the league and their free scoring antics had created a 99 goal difference.

The pitch has a slight slope from side to side and being so new the grass was wearing and the surface caused the ball to bobble. A few years cutting and the use of rollers will create a good surface.

Aylestone Park are a relatively new club being formed in 1980 as a Sunday League club and soon added Saturday football in local Leicestershire Leagues. Things took off from 2010 with a new ground and two years later promotion to the East Midlands County League. The recent national reorganisation has brought them to their current league where if the run in to the end of the season goes as well as results so far should see them move up a step to match their improved facilities.

Southwell City were formed in 1893 but early records are sketchy with the club believed to have played in the Newark area. The team was devastated through casualties in the Great War and although football was played in Southwell it wasn’t until its reformation in 1955 that the current club truly emerged. They joined the Notts Football Alliance in 1957 where they stayed until the end of the 2002/03 season, when a move to the Central Midlands League was completed. On their journey the football club merged with Southwell United Youth Football and Southwell Amateurs and have created a Community Charter club that caters for all grades of the game. This has been achieved through developing their old and new grounds. Winning the Notts Senior League last season gained them promotion to the United Counties Division One.

Southwell City 3 Aylestone Park 4

Saturday 11th February 2023. 15.00 p.m. kick off

14th v 1st. Zebras v The Park

Southwell, black and white verticsl striped shirts, black shorts: Aylestone Park, red shirts and red shorts.

I missed the first goal in just 3 minutes scored by George Cudwell to put Southwell ahead. This jolted Aylestone into action and they exerted maximum pressure for an equaliser especially down the left through Aaron Nuttall. Within 10 minutes Nuttall was brought down for a penalty which Tendai Daire took. The goalkeeper dived to his left and kept the ball out but Daire’s momentum kept him running on to blast it home for 1.1.

Within ten minutes Nuttal had scored when the ball had fallen to him after some heavy pressure in the goal mouth 1.2.

Aylestone’s quick skillful forwards kept pressing but it was the home team who hit back on 33 minutes when a long throw caused panic in the visitors defense and lead to a corner that was taken by Oliver McCourt . The corner sailed over everyone straight into the net to put both sides level 2.2. The all out attacking football continued to half time and it looked like any one could win it in the second half.

Aylestone looked sharper immediately after the restart and within 3 minutes they were ahead when Tendai Daire rose above everyone to place a strong header into the net from a corner 2.3. The away side made it four on 66 minutes when Mathew Laugham scored by heading over the advancing goalkeeper into the net after a beautiful cross from the right 2.4.

Aaron Nuttall continued his harassment down the left and drew a yellow card for Edward Munton who had replaced his previous marker.

This superiority was not capitalised on when at the other end a balll in from right caused indecision by the away defense and the Zebras forward, Morgan Shevlin ghosted in to place the ball along groud between many legs for 3.4.

It was now end to end and Aaron Nuttall, referred to as ‘nutter’ by away fans drew another foul from Edward Munton and a red card.

Aylestone held out and despite the difference in league placings there was little between the sides. What a great game and a further example to me that the United Counties Leagues are getting stronger and stronger.

Alas no chips but a coffee instead having forgone the four varieties of pies on offer due to yet another weight loss program.

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