Shepshed Dynamo 1 Retford United 0 ht: 0-0 att: 185
from The Dovecote, Butthole Lane
If you love it up the butthole clap your hands
…quite a disarming chant to hear unless you’d spotted the road sign on the way in. Shepshed Dynamo play in surely the best named road to house football in the country – Butthole Lane. Butt is an old English word for target and the name derives from Tudor times when archers practised in the area.The residents here, far from being embarrassed at a bit of a nomenclaturial misfortune, are proud of their heritage, happy to keep the name, even sing about it. Unlike the residents of Butt Hole Road in South Yorkshire, which was renamed to Archers Way. The Shepshedians are not so pretentious – they do not want their Butthole wiping.
Today was FA Cup day – that indefinably exciting first Saturday of FA Cup action – the extra preliminary round; where hundreds of small clubs around the country start out in the most famous cup competition in the world, with the prospect of getting one step closer to Wembley and a cash payment for every win. I’d heard of Shepshed when I was a kid; their suffix back then being the unforgettable Charterhouse. Asked to name five non league clubs when I was ten, one of the first to pop in my head would’ve been Shepshed Charterhouse. This Charterhouse incarnation ran from 1975 to 1992, before changing to Shepshed Albion and then folding a couple of years later. The new Dynamo was formed on the back of this with help from their other local Dynamo neighbours, Loughborough. Football at their Dovecote ground has been played for over a hundred years, though, with Shepshed teams going back to 1879.
It was only as Charterhouse that they rose to prominence and national attention. Between 1978 and 1984 they astoundingly rose from the lower echelons of the Leicestershire Senior League to the top of the Southern League Premier Division. They were promoted in seven consecutive seasons, six of them title winning! They also reached the semis and quarters of the FA Vase and the first round proper of the FA Cup. Recently they were relegated from step four to step five and currently play in the Midland League Premier division. They had won their first two games this season. Opponents Retford United are at the same level but in the Northern Counties East League. They struggled last season and lost their first two games in the league. The Nottinghamshire team were founded in 1987.
So it was off east down the A50 again, one of the few roads left in Britain where one can average over 50mph, certainly a lot faster than the nearby motorways. Shepshed lies in the crook of the M1 and A512 by Junction 23. The Black Swan pub lies at the top of Butthole lane and served a very palatable pint of Vixen by Charnwood brewery, whetting my FA Cup appetite. Dylan, my 12 year old, couldn’t get enough of the street name. It kept him amused a while, as it would any 12 year old.
The Dovecote is a bit of a beauty, oozing character built up over the decades, like a home adorned over the years with nicknacks and ornaments.
A newish stand behind the goal has just over 200 blue seats, weirdly every other row is actually lower than the one in front, going against the prevailing idea that seating should get higher the further back you go. This lies on the same side as the club shop and offices. Down the side a covered terrace sits next to a small seated stand claiming to be for club officials only. Next to this a non adorned bare white wood covered terrace, just 6 foot high.
Across from this was where the Shepshed Ultras sat, in another covered stand. This one goes just four rows back, seating another 200 or so.
The game was entertaining despite the lack of goals. Shepshed, who had made the better league start, looked the more likely to score and created many chances. Retford’s defence was stubborn, several times the ball sat up perfectly for Shepshed to tuck away when a Retford leg came from nowhere to block it. However, it was the visitors who hit the bar shortly before half time with a divine curling 20 yard drive. The rebound came kindly down, but was poorly hit straight at the keeper – it was a let off for Dynamo.
In the second half Shepshed had even more resolve to break the deadlock but again couldn’t find a way through Retford’s staunch backline. It was a good tactical ploy by Retford, who looked like taking them back to Nottinghamshire. They even had a few breaks themselves, hitting the post from close range late on. But with 5 minutes remaining good work down the right saw a cross into the box that was headed back from a defender. The inch perfect header looped over the keeper and nestled in the top corner of the net. The home crowd went wild – a late winner to guarantee them a tie with Carlton in the next round.
It was a good ending to a thrilling cup tie. Shepshed is a friendly club with fans who sing throughout – I hope they get far in the cup and gain promotion to the Northern League.