We’ve unveiled the finalists of this year’s Club Renovation Programme and over the next few weeks we’ll announce the winners. In the meantime 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.
Holwell Sports 1 Radford 1
Where: Welby Road, Asfordby Hill, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire LE14 3RD
Kick-off: 7.45pm, Tuesday January 23 2018
Overview: Several football matches were being called off in advance due to bad weather so I was reluctant to travel very far. However, Holwell Sports told me that their pitch was perfectly playable and the game against Radford was definitely going to take place. So I set off on a 200 mile round trip and arrived in time to have dinner in a nearby restaurant. The East Midlands Counties League is a fairly new competition as it was formed just 10 years ago in 2008. There is a catchment area of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The EMCL sits at Step 6 of the national Non-League Pyramid. Therefore member clubs would theoretically have to win six promotions to reach the Football League whilst improving their stadium facilities to match progress on the field of play.
History: The club was established in 1902 and were originally called Holwell Ironworks FC. The players came from the iron works at Asfordby Hill, with football forming part of the working men’s club for social and fitness activities. Holwell’s most famous past player is striker Dixie McNeil, who went on to have a good professional career including a prolific spell at Wrexham from 1977 to 1982. The iron works closed in 1988 but the football club continued and changed their name to Holwell Sports FC. After many years of playing in county football, Holwell left the Leicestershire Senior League and became founder members of the EMCL in 2008.
Ground description: This is located a couple of miles outside the centre of Melton Mowbray behind the clubhouse building on Welby Road. The ground is well maintained and certainly has a very homely feel. There is a sturdy 100-seater stand alongside the pitch with two decent areas of covered standing behind one goal. The football club also have an outside training area and a bowls club is situated next door.
Programme details: Edited by local radio and press photographer Jonathan McGrady, the programme consisted of 12 pages and sold at £1. The contents include a newspaper interview with Holwell’s new manager Andy Gray, match reports, team line-ups and the histories of both of tonight’s clubs.
The match: In a hard fought game played amidst blustery conditions, David Hazeldine gave Holwell Sports the lead on 29 minutes after good work by Liam Chapman who crossed from the left. But visitors Radford battled back and grabbed the equaliser in the 71st minute when Conor Moore’s centre allowed Ryan Smith to send a looping header into the net. Overall, a draw was a fair result.
The people: Holwell Sports chairman Graham Lewin and secretary Heather Taylor gave me a friendly welcome when I arrived at the ground. Heather also ran the clubhouse bar on the night.
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. We’ll announce the winners over the coming weeks, for more information visit our website