Saturday 5th December 2015
East Midlands League
Radford 2 St Andrews 1 ht: 1-0 att: 65 Ent: £5, Prog £1, Coffee £1
King 34, 72 : Darby 4
from Selhurst Street (picture here)
Once again to Nottingham for fresh stadium meat. This time Radford; the place not the person. Hearing the name Radford immediately evokes memories of the iconic seventies football scene; Ronnie Radford hitting a straight-as-a-die 30 yarder into the top corner for non league Hereford, on the cut-up Edgar Street pitch, against Newcastle United. His arms aloft, white shirt riding up his back like it was two sizes too short, kids in Parka jackets frolicking on the pitch, in the most genial pitch invasion ever.
Anyway, back to Radford the place. It is an inner city suburb just west of Nottingham City centre. They play just north of Radford in Hyson Green, off Radford Road and Selhurst Street – their ground name.
Radford FC started out in 1964 as the engineering company team Manlove & Alliots, a name to give schoolboys weeks of material. They played in the Notts Sunday League. When the company transferred to Scotland they became Radford Olympic in 1970 and became the first amateur side to have advertising on their shirts in 1977; prompting a visit by the BBC and appearance on a Nationwide documentary. They became Radford FC in 1987. They joined the EMCL in its inaugural season in 2008, one of eight clubs to move over from the Central Midlands League, to the new step six league.
The striking thing about Selhurst Street is its urban environment. I’ve never seen a ground quite so hemmed in by its surburban surroundings. There is a real inner city vibe to the place, with the backs of houses and shops overlooking the pitch. Behind the goal, next to the entrance, you have the main Radford Road, a typically busy out-of-town parade of newsagents, grocers and fast food outlets. These large Victorian town houses loom over the clubhouse and small covered terrace; overlooking an appealing and provocative claret and blue sign, sat snug between the two corrugated triangular prisms, that are the clubhouse roof.
One long side is bordered by the semi detached abodes on Randall Gardens and Birkin Avenue; the other by Berridge Infant school and more semis on Bobbers Mill Road. Finally, behind the other goal, the people of Craven Road have a view from their top floor windows. The space in the ground is very limited as a result of the urban encroachment, but I think it makes for an evocative backdrop and feeling of being close to the action.
The main stand is by the entrance behind the goal, more or less a 120 seater, three rows of about 39 seats. This is next to the bit of cover under the clubhouse. Two chairs sit under a small cover on one flat side; a longer covered terrace structure sits on the other. Two bright blue buildings denoted Tea Bar and Club Shop sit next to the small cover. It’s a smart, compact set up.
On paper the match was a classic, with 5th placed Radford entertaining second placed St Andrews. St Andrews had the phenomenal record of having conceded only nine goals in 15 games, an almost unheard of feat at this level of the pyramid. Their miserly defence, combined with being away at 5th in the table, reduced the 0-0 odds massively – I had the fear.
However, the dread was quelled after just five minutes when a St Andrews pass into the box found Darby, who clipped the ball with the outside of his foot into the far top corner. Clever execution, but far too easy for St Andrews. Considering the visitors let in on average a goal every two games, it was an uphill challenge for Radford, even with their 7-1-1 home record.
Radford plugged away at St Andrews’ stubborn defence and on 34 minutes got a deserved equaliser, when King’s shot at goal could only be parried into the top corner. This set up a mouth-watering second period. Radford had the better chances in the second and were finally rewarded when a through ball again found King, who composed himself and side footed it beyond the keeper – most of the 65 strong crowd went mad as they nosed in front against the favourites; and they managed to hang on to secure a hard-fought valuable three points.
Lots of character and nice features abound at Selhurst Street. For a ground I’d heard or seen little about before the day I went, it certainly made its mark. I liked the simple retro design claret and blue programe, the urban ground and setting and finally the well deserved 2-1 win. A ground I’d heartily recommend.