Last week we launched the second year of our Club Renovation Programme, which will transform the facilities of two lucky winners competing in the Buildbase FA Trophy and Vase competitions.
To mark the occasion we’ve enlisted the support of non-league football champion and talkSPORT and Sky TV presenter Tony Incenzo. Here’s his second exclusive view on Trophy and Vase clubs as he ground hops around the country.
Welton Rovers 3 Keynsham Town 1
Where: West Clewes Recreation Ground, North Road, Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Somerset BA3 2QD
Kick-off: 10.45am, Saturday 7 October 2017
Overview: This was the first match on a groundhopper weekend expertly organised by Groundhop UK, where Chris and Laurence are great ambassadors for Non-League football. It featured seven games in the Western League from Friday to Sunday with staggered kick-off times to allow people to get to all the matches. So a convoy of cars and mini-buses whizzed around the country lanes of Somerset in football’s version of Wacky Races! The hop attracted around 200 groundhoppers from all over Britain plus other visitors from Poland and Germany. The Saturday was also Non-League Day, where supporters of Premier League and Football League clubs are encouraged to visit their local Non-League teams by event founder James Doe. I travelled down to Somerset on the Friday with my wife. We stayed in the beautiful town of Wells, with our hotel being directly opposite the stunning cathedral and near The Bishop’s Palace. From this central base, we managed to get to five Western League matches in 28 hours.
History: Welton Rovers were founded in 1887 to provide an opportunity for the mining coalfield community of Midsomer Norton to play and watch football. They first joined the Western League in 1903/04 and have since featured in more than 3,000 matches in that competition. The town of Midsomer Norton is the inspiration for the fictional Midsomer Murders television detective drama.
Ground description: The West Clewes Recreation Ground has a grandstand with 100 seats and covered terracing alongside it. The venue coped well with the increased number of spectators on the day and Welton Rovers did a roaring trade by selling breakfast baps to the hungry groundhoppers at this morning fixture.
Programme details: A very unusual 12-page effort that folded out to become two posters in the club colours of green and white.
The match: The visitors from Keynsham Town took an early lead through a goal by Curnock after just three minutes. But the home side battled back to win 3-1 with Smith (27 minutes), Green (41) and Pile (90+2) on target.
The people: It was good to meet Welton’s vice-chair Gareth Paisley, who is an enthusiastic follower of Non-League football in general. Hard-working Western League officials Julian French and Kerry Miller were also in attendance to promote their weekend of fixtures. Meanwhile, the groundhoppers came from far and wide in a totally unique social gathering of like-minded people building up friendships and having a good time. Many hoppers collect club badges, programmes, scarves, replica shirts and any other paraphernalia they can lay their hands upon at games. Welton Rovers definitely benefitted from this income, plus the increased use of bar and refreshment facilities.
You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo
The Buildbase Club Renovation Programme will provide two product bursaries of £50,000 each in building, electrical products and hire equipment to two clubs by the end of the 2017-18 season. To apply visit our website