Tuesday 6th September 2016 ko 19.30
Somerset County League- Premier Division
FRY CLUB 0
WELLS CITY RESERVES 1 (Andrews 40)
Entry & Programme £2
At the end of the season before last many hoppers made a beeline for Fry Club as their ground was due to be demolished, with the club moving around 200 yards away. The old Somerdale was quite a ground with the “Cadbury’s” logo in the background, but as we all left we saw the new ground in progress and thought we’d seen the start of a happy ending, so I headed back expecting to find the club happily ensconced in their new ground. Of course life couldn’t be that straightforward could it?
The idea was that Fry Club would get a Step 6 compliant ground, enough for elevation to the Western League, and with that league’s groundhop coming up in just over a week (Information here) featuring Wells’ first XI, I arrived expecting to be writing this article as a long-term preview.
Sadly the ground isn’t up to Step 6 gradings, and at present isn’t close. There’s lights, a rail, and changing rooms and not much else. The clubhouse-cum-leisure centre is high quality but that doesn’t benefit the club financially. The centre isn’t getting the footfall it was expecting so there’s been cutbacks and fee rises. The knock-on effect on the club is that with elevation now not as likely players have left and as I write they’re third from bottom of the table.
You hope they find salvation somehow, the welcome is still as friendly as it was. The old chocolate factory is mid-conversion to flats and once people move in, hopefully they’ll want a gym membership or a beer in the bar, and so the centre’s income will rise sufficiently for the ground to be completed.
The other side of it is that there are no lack of clubs south-east of Bristol and whilst this gives clubs a real headache over recruitment, you can see Keynsham Town’s floodlights just beyond the railway line, it could give the club an escape route. Groundhoppers may not like groundshares but Keynsham’s pitch is 3G and would provide an obvious route into the Western League.
Of course that would depend on will and recruitment, and while Fry were spirited they looked a long way from challenging for promotion. Nevertheless this was a highly enjoyable visit, and one that was unusual in that at no point did I find myself wanting the old ground back. Hopefully the club will find a way of squaring the circle of their existence.