Saturday 14th April 2012 at Raleigh Grove, Terrace Playing Fields.
Western League Premier Division.
Sherborne Town 3-1 Hallen, ht 0-0, attendance 67.
My Palace season ticket sat in the top drawer as for the first time this season I voluntarily decided to miss a Palace 1st team home game. Our season had seriously fizzled out, and I could not get enthused about a mid lower table end of season fixture v Ipswich.
So having scanned the NL fixtures, and tick grounds required, and with the remit of perhaps doing somewhere from home two hours by train, this fixture stood out like a beacon. So I ran it by Ros, and she was quite keen to visit the newer of the Sherborne castles, and with weather forecast for sun and showers, we set off.
Sherborne had been on my radar for a while as it’s an easy journey South and West from my home in Reading via Basingstoke. Arriving into town about 13:30, Ros and I parted, her to the castle, and I quickly had time to visit the best ale pub in town, ‘The Digby Tap’, a short 5 minute walk from the station, for a couple of quick half’s. Before then taking the 15/20 minute walk up the hill to Sherborne’s slightly out-of-town ground at the Terrace Playing fields.
Sir Walter Raleigh is closely associated with the town, hence the name of the football ground, Raleigh Grove, part of the Terrace playing fields.
Sherborne is a market town in northwest Dorset, England. It is sited on the River Yeo, on the edge of the Blackmore Vale, 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Yeovil. The A30 road, which connects London to Penzance, runs through the town.
Sherborne is famous for its historic buildings, including its abbey, a manor house, its famous independent schools, and two castles (the ‘old castle’ ruins of a 12th century fortified palace, and a ‘new’ 16th century mansion, known as Sherborne Castle, which was built by Sir Walter Raleigh). Much of the old town, including the abbey and many medieval and Georgian buildings, is built from the distinctive ochre-coloured ham stone. It is indeed a picturesque town, as my quick view of the Abbey from near to the Digby Tap revealed.
Raleigh Grove is part of a larger sports complex, with a railed off Rugby pitch running behind the football facility. In fact a rugger game was taking place at the same time, and from a sneaky peer through the fence I’d say many more fans watching the egg chasing! Actually in my experience the further west one goes the more popular the oval-shaped ball game is, each to their own I guess!
I visited the clubhouse to purchase an enamel badge, and found the badge had a curious design. Later whilst walking around the town I realised the design depicted the ‘Conduit’, see below, although frankly I’m still none the wiser of the purpose of the Conduit? Ros thought it something to do with washing in medieval times?
In the clubhouse, I fell into conversaton, possibly with the chairman (suited and booted). Who advised me pre-match that a win today should ensure Sherborne’s survival in the Premier Division. As the league had lost through withdrawal Dawlish Town earlier in the season, so in essence only one team would probably be relegated, as Corsham Town could no longer catch the ‘Sherbs’.
In noting the framed Palace shirt on the wall, which I quieried, he told me that Palace had used the ground for training, pre Yeovil away in the LC (Aug 2010). I had a go at the Clubs ‘predict a score’ competition for a pound, which included the game today, and also those involving Yeovil and Torquay. And I suggested that Sherborne would win 2-1, the jackpot was about 620 quid, for getting all 3 scores ‘exactly’ correct, well worth winning I thought! The chairman did not share my optimism of Sherborne winning!
I immediately liked this ground. Rolling hills to the right of the ground, whcih gave a lovely green outlook, and although the ground itself is not seriously developed, a tidy stand, and slightly raised banking on that side gave a good view to the pitch.
Having said I liked the ground, the quality of football in the first half was dreadful. Fourth placed Hallen, from Bristol, looked as inept as Sherborne, and the fare, on a hard bumpy pitch only reminded me, what a poor standard league the two divisions of the Western League are.
Thankfully it was a dry day, occasionally sunny, and the lack of entertainment allowed me to wander around the ground taking photos.
Thankfully the second half was a massive improvement, and whatever had been said to the Sherborne players at half time obviously worked as they came out looking like a completely different and motivated set of players. MOM and captain Harry Montacute took the bull by the horn by scoring a tidy opener in the 50th minute, before Matt Chant scored a well taken goal in the 58th minute for Borne to deservedly go two ahead.
Hallen finally woke themselves from a slumber to pull one back in the 70th minute, before Matt Chant added a third in the 81st minute, to add some gloss to what had been a superb second half performance. Hallen looked like a team seriously thinking of summer holidays, beaches and such like, and looked a million miles away from a team sitting 4th in the division.
Unfortunately the third goal scuppered my chances of bagging the 620 quid, not that I got the other two correct either. But I wondered whether other clubs should do something similar rather than the dreaded raffle ticket (which I never buy), and it’s prizes of wine or whisky (which I never drink). I’m much more likely to part with a pound for a fun predict a score competition. After a quick look at the full times in the clubhouse, seeing Charlton Athletic had been promoted at Carlisle (never mind), and seeing that we’d finished 1-1 at home to Ipswich, which I heard later had been poor entertainment. I headed back into town and met Ros at the Digby Tap to scoop another half, before sauntering further into this delightful town for some good gastro pub food in the The White Hart, which I’d recommend. All in all a great day out, and I’d seriously suggest a visit to Sherborne even if there wasn’t a football match going on.