Date: Saturday 18th April 2009 2.30pm
Ground: Ball Haye Green WMC
Match: Ball Haye Green 1 Norton 1 HT: 0-1 ATT: circa 68 (hc)
Comp: Staffordshire County Senior League Premier Division (Step 7)
Additional: Entrance £2.00 (including programme) Tea/Coffee 50p
I’d never been below step six before this game. Grounds for step six clubs and above, must have floodlights and at least 50 covered seats. I’ve never set myself any rules for the grounds I visit, but prefer them to have floodlights and at least one reasonable stand. Otherwise they’re just pitches really.
Ball Haye Green WMC is the only ground in the Staffs County Senior League to have floodlights (other than those who share with their first teams or in Sandbach Utd’s case Winsford Utd). The others comprising the 18 team league are:
Alsager, Norton, Newcastle, Rocester and Eccleshall reserves (though they are not referred to as reserves) They share the grounds of their senior teams who play in the NWCL Prem, NWCL 1st, NWCL Prem, Midlands Alliance and NWCL 1st respectively.
Then there is Sandbach Utd, recently promoted, who share with Winsford(NWCL Prem)
The other promoted teams are Audley and Stretton Eagles.
The rest are Foley, Wolstanton Utd, Hanley Town, Redgate Clayton, Congleton Vale, Florence, Abbey Hulton Utd, Goldenhill Wanderers and Barlaston.
Foley went on to win the league(2008-09), one point from Wolstanton Utd (last year’s champions).
The set up at Ball Haye Green was excellent and a real surprise. It is based in Leek, just six miles up the road from me. It is a small town but boasts two other teams at a higher level – Leek Town from the Unibond One South (Leek were in the Conference not long ago) and Leek County School Old Boys of the NWCL 1st division. They share Harrison Park.
Ball Haye Green is very near the centre of Leek. The entrance is on the left up Ball Haye Road. There is a pub, the Working Men’s Club, with a small pub car park, but drive down the side of the pub and there is ample parking down the side of the ground, right up to pitch side, actually. You could watch the match from your car, if you wanted.
I was pleased to see that there was a program, a very good one at that. It came free with the entrance fee of £2. Very good value. On the right as you go in are the changing rooms and snack bar.
The pitch is overlooked by a very imposing factory building. In front of this is the long covered terrace, the only stand in the ground. There are a few benches laid out under the roof, so sitting is possible.
I counted the crowd as 68, but it could’ve been more. Seeing the typical attendances at step six of the pyramid, to use football parlance, yer 29s and yer 42s and yer 19s, I was expecting crowds to be slightly lower at step seven, so I was surprised at the turnout.
I was a lovely day for football and I really enjoyed the game, possibly enticing me to make another Staffs County visit next season. The result was about fair with Ball Haye Green having a penalty saved in the second half.