Date: Tuesday November 3rd 2009
Ground: Beech Grove
Comp: West Midlands Regional Premier League
Match: Ellesmere Rangers 3 Bloxwich United 2 HT: 1-2 ATT: c98
(No scorer stats or attendance on WM(R)P website)
Additional: Entrance £3, Programme £1, Coffee/Tea £0.70
Beech Grove in pictures
This Ellesmere is a small market town in Shropshire, not the Ellesmere as in Ellesmere Port. This Ellesmere is properly in the middle of nowhere, so remote that it is described as being near Oswestry, a town quite humble and anonymous in its own right.
It’s funny how things come in twos. I’d never before seen a West Midlands Regional League Premier match (step 6) until last Tuesday, and now I’m seeing my second a week later. It was a must see. Ellesmere were top and Bloxwich second; two points behind. Ellesmere had won all 9 previous home games.
It was a 40 mile drive West through Cheshire and Shropshire, along some of the darkest country roads you can imagine, passing through Nantwich and Whitchurch. It was like the Deliverance version of Man Utd v Chelsea.
I’d seen Ellesmere before, en route to TNS, and it looks like a lovely rural town, population only 3,000 odd. The large mere (the largest outside the Lake District) provides a scenic and calming backdrop. It only takes a minute to drive through the town to the West side, where the ground lies, along Beech Grove.
The ground is fairly well hidden, but fortunately signposted. I parked on the residential road, with no problem, and no residents only nonsense. You can drive into the ground, down the single lane track, but I chose to walk down from the street.
The Rangers have a really nice setup,with training pitch next door to the ground. It’s not what you expect when you see the tiny sign pointing you between two garden hedgerows. The tea room was very welcoming and large, laid out in a proper café style, with a number of tables. There were the traditional non-league souvenirs on the walls, with television playing Sky Sports in the corner. My coffee was served in a proper china mug, which I could take pitch-side; none of this styrofoam nonsense.
The entrance was £3 again, same as last week at Wolves Casuals, and again £1 for a matt finish, but well worth the money programme, full of statistics and photos, in colour. By the way, they recorded their scores correctly as in their scores first, their opponents’ last, whether home or away. As in A 4-1 H 0-2 meaning they won 4-1 away and then lost 2-0 at home. Its amazing how many publications get in a terrible muddle listing their scores.
The ground is small but smart, nestling in an outlying residential area. The main stand is fairly shallow, about four rows up by 25 long of seats, covered.
That was it for structures to the ground, the rest hard standing, framed nicely by some large trees and hedges.
The match was a classic and certainly lived up to my expectations of a top vs second encounter. The match was played at a fast pace and in the first half both teams looked capable of winning it. Ellesmere took the lead, but before half time, Bloxwich had come back to lead 2-1. Rangers’ 100% home record was looking in danger.
The second half saw a great comeback from Ellesmere, helped to some extent by some poor Bloxwich defending. However, the winner, from a freekick, took a slight deflection as it fired into the top corner. Maybe a tad harsh for the away team.
Excellent evening’s entertainment, great club. A few weeks on, they are still top, one point ahead of Bloxwich, but now with AFC Wulfrunians, Bustleholme and Dudley Town all within three points. It’s all getting very tight at the top.
Beech Grove in pictures
WM(R)P League website