As part of our support for non-league football we recently launched our Club Renovation Programme for the second year. Here we go behind the scenes of Buildbase FA Trophy and Buildbase FA Vase clubs with non-league football champion and talkSPORT and Sky TV presenter Tony Incenzo.
Hengrove Athletic 3 Hallen 3
Where: Norton Lane, Whitchurch, Bristol BS14 0BT
Kick-off: 7.45pm, Saturday 7 October 2017
Overview: This evening fixture was the third Western League match I attended on Non-League Day. I had already been to Welton Rovers versus Keynsham Town at 10.45pm and Wellington versus Longwell Green Sports at 3pm. It was all part of a groundhopping weekend expertly organised by Chris and Laurence of Groundhop UK. The Western League Premier Division sits at step five of the Non-League pyramid, so a member club would have to win promotion five times to reach the Football League. The constitution mainly covers Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and the Bristol area although there have been participating teams from South Wales and Cornwall in the past.
History: Hengrove Athletic were formed in 1948 by local footballers who had just been demobbed from National Service. There is a fascinating story about how the club colours of green and white originated due to the Post-War economic climate.
With rationing and many shortages, football shirts were virtually impossible to obtain. As a result, all of the members of Hengrove Athletic decided to donate an ordinary white shirt to the club. Following this, the mother of one of the players kindly dyed those shirts green in her bath.
So the colour green had no symbolic meaning at Hengrove. It was quite simply the only colour available at the time! The founding fathers of Hengrove agreed to retain this colour in future years.
The club were members of the Bristol and Suburban League and then the Somerset Senior League before eventually progressing to the Western League in 2006.
Ground description: Norton Lane has been Hengrove’s home ground since 1964. It is located in a narrow country road but there is plenty of room for car parking alongside the pitch. Floodlights were installed at the ground in 2007/08 to achieve the necessary ground grading of the Western League. There are two seated grandstands either side of a covered terrace area. These facilities coped well with the influx of around 200 groundhoppers on the night and friendly hospitality was dispensed the well-appointed clubhouse.
Programme details: £1 for 28 pages. Packed full of interesting reading with good use of colour and photography. The editorial contained a special welcome to the groundhoppers and other visitors on Non-League Day.
The match: A really exciting affair. The visitors from Hallen led 2-0 at the break courtesy of goals by Thomas (3 minutes) and Mills (26). But early in the second period, Hengrove fought back to level through White (53) and Hickery (61). Then it became 3-2 to Hallen with Cousins (72) on target before Fillingham dramatically scored a penalty for Hengrove two minutes into injury time at the end to seal a 3-3 draw.
The people: I had a nice chat with Hengrove secretary Martin McConachie who has a great knowledge of all levels of football. Martin made sure that all the groundhoppers received a warm welcome at his club.
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