Saturday 17th December 2016 15.00
East Midlands League Premier
Blaby & Whetstone Athletic 5 Ellistown & Ibstock 1 ht: 4-0 att: 40 Ent: £5 Prog £2 Coffee £1
Lane 3, Ireland 13, Bates 24, Preston 31, 79 : Thorpe 70
from Warwick Road
Blaby & Whetstone Athletic continued my collection of EML grounds, now 18 out of 22. The EML has quickly become my favourite league, mostly for the attacking style of play adopted by most teams – it’s easily the highest scoring league for me personally – I’d bet it was in the top five of Step Six leagues nationally. Just this season, in my three previous jaunts to Holwell Sports, West Bridgford and Radcliffe Borough I’ve seen a 2-5, 4-4 and 5-1 respectively.
Added to the entertaining games is the clear journey, zipping along the A50 from Stoke at 70 all the way; as opposed to the so called ‘Motorway’, that goes North from Stoke, that is gridlocked permanently, when it’s not they close a lane, then two, then if the traffic is still flowing, they close the whole motorway – both directions, from years ago to the end of time.
And then there’s the charming small grounds with a strange propensity to be near electricity pylons. At Blaby they were conspicuous by their absence; a panorama of the ground looked somehow naked.
BWAFC were founded in 1993, but morphed from the old Whetstone Athetic team of 1928 vintage. They moved to their current Warwick Road ground in 1993, while absorbing the Blaby Boys’ Club. Blaby is a Leicestershire village of just over 6,000 inhabitants – the name thought to be from the the Old Norse Blabyr – meaning Farmstead. Whetstone is next door and twice the size but is in the district of Blaby. The Warwich Road ground is in Whetstone.
With the hosts bearing a 25 letter name and the visitors, also and and team, bearing 25 letters themselves, it is surely one of the longest fixtures in terms of letters in football. The ground is tidy in places, untidy in others. Its main stand is a smart blue and white affair, with BWFC emblazoned on the back. Three rows of benches provide around 50 seats.
Juxtaposed to the well kept stand down the side are some raggedy billboards hung from the perimeter fence with cable ties. Behind the goal the simple three-piece jigsaw that spells Welcome to Blaby & Whetstone has been put together incorrectly, spelling Whetstone Blaby & Welcome to, with bite marks out of the panels, the Whetstone one lying wounded on the ground.
Down the other side is a dual purpose covered shelter, from the side a T-shape that serves as cover for the ground and also for the second pitch lying parallel behind.
The game was always likely to be one-sided, with lowly E&IU losing heavily in previous matches. Blaby played some nice football in the first half, scored some well set up goals and let before the break 4-0. The first a header from a cross, the second a thump in the top corner from 12 yards, the third a well directed lob from a fiercely arriving cross, and the fourth another well placed header.
In the second had Ellistown were a lot better, created a few chances themselves, scoring one from a through ball and good finish. They should have had two at least as Blaby seemed to lose interest in the game. After the first half hammering I was just thinking Hit me Blaby one more time. They also ignored their own Latin motto Non Sine Pulvere Palma which means ‘no reward without effort’ or ‘dare to try’ (some translation have it as ‘don’t relax and sit back when you’re 4-0 up’). They did oblige with one more, with the best move of the half, finished off with a close range header. Should have been a lot more, but credit to the visitors’ resolve in drawing the second half 1-1. With 15 minutes left the fog descended heavily, making visibility a problem – the fog was country-wide, putting paid to dozens of games across the country. Luckily at Warwick Road its late arrival and the score being 5-1 meant it was always going to finish, albeit in 1888 Whitechapel conditions by the final whistle.
Another six goal EML haul and once again great spirit shown by both teams, who showed a typical EML flare for attack with less regard for defence – long may this trend continue. Great ground and programme.