Birstall United 0 Aylestone Park 4
Where: Meadow Lane, Birstall, Leicestershire LE4 4FN
Kick-off: 7.45pm, Tuesday 6th November 2018
United Counties League Division One
Attendance: 36 (my headcount)
Overview: Birstall United switched to the United Counties League from the East Midlands Counties League this season and were the only UCL club I needed to re-complete visits to all the grounds in the league. So I eagerly set off on a 250-mile round trip to the Leicester area. The UCL sits at Step 5 and 6 of the Non-League Pyramid and covers a wide area. Over the years, member teams have been based in Northamptonshire, Rutland and Bedfordshire, plus parts of Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk.
History: Birstall United were founded in 1961 and were originally a Sunday League team in the Leicester & District League. After winning three championships, they switched to Saturday football in the Leicester Mutual League and eventually became long-standing members of the Leicestershire Senior League in 1976. Birstall won promotion to the East Midlands Counties League in 2015/16 before switching to the UCL after two seasons.
Ground description: Located down a narrow country lane, there is a cosy clubhouse behind one goal with old but sturdy, covered spectator accommodation adjacent to it. A prefabricated grandstand with three rows containing 50 seats has been installed along one touchline and the club have been busy building covered terracing for 150 spectators alongside this. Good, uncovered terracing has recently been installed for spectators who wish to view from the opposite side of the pitch with the perimeter barriers also having been replaced. In addition, new fencing has been erected to separate the ground from the car park. These extensive improvements over the past three years were made possible by grants totalling £36,371 from the Premier League, which is delivered through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund – the sister organisation of the Football Foundation.
Programme details: Twelve pages with a glossy card cover depicting the club’s logo. The rest of the programme consists of the chairman’s welcome notes, club history, line-ups, details of opponents Aylestone Park, the UCL table and a quiz. Birstall told me the programme was “only basic to meet our requirements” yet it contained all the essential information and was certainly more than adequate. The club are often referred to as ‘Birstall United Social FC’ but the programme confirmed that their official name is simply Birstall United.
The match: On a mild but windy evening, Aylestone were comfortable winners with strikes by Paul Pallett, Jake Wormleighton, Zak Yusuf and Cory Holdom. Yusuf’s thunderous 25 yard volley for the third goal was the pick of the bunch and almost broke the net!
The people: Birstall secretary Sandra Plumb arrived straight from work at 4.30pm to unlock the main car park gates and open the clubhouse ready for the evening match. She was assisted by a small, but enthusiastic band of volunteers on the night.
Tony Incenzo is a reporter for talkSPORT Radio and Sky TV. You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo
For the latest on the Buildbase FA Vase & Trophy, join us on Twitter here