Chippenham Town, Football, Josh Smile, Non League, Recreation Ground, Shrewton United, Western League, Wiltshire League
Wednesday 18th October 2017 ko 19.45
Wiltshire Senior Cup- First Round
SHREWTON UNITED 0
CHIPPENHAM TOWN 7 (Ricketts 15 77 81 Richards 24 Smile 51 87 Bowman 54)
When groundhoppers get deeper into the hobby they tend to realise that the number of floodlit grounds is far more finite than those without, so tend to go for unlit grounds on Saturdays and save the floodlit grounds for midweeks when the lights are in use. That throws up the unusual sub-set of grounds who have floodlights, but seldom use them. An extreme example of this is North Berkshire League club Uffington United who currently are the only club in their league to have lights, and have only used them twice, both times for games I’ve helped organise! Shrewton’s case is less extreme, as their lights are there as a legacy.
The lights at the Recreation Ground are there because between 2003 and 2013 Shrewton were members of the Western League. They never managed to play higher than that league’s lower division, 4th place in 2008 was as good as it got for them. They opted to drop back to the Wiltshire League, where they remain today.
Floodlights aren’t necessary in the Wiltshire League and since fixtures aren’t planned with them in mind so if you want to visit Shrewton United your best chance of a floodlit game is the county cup, and so it came to pass…
You can see why the Shrews opted to drop down a league. You’re close to Stonehenge here, placing the club right on the border of the Western and Wessex Leagues, either would involve a lot of travelling. Nearby Amesbury Town have played in both Wessex and Western, but Shrewton have the additional problem that the Recreation Ground also hosts cricket, and the clubhouse here doubles as the village hall. I’m fairly certain I disturbed a committee meeting of some sort at half time!
But there’s a lot to like here. Almost all of the facilities are behind the near goal, the decking being placed on top of a former terrace that presumably crumbled beyond safe use. But since that’s raised, and on a slope the view is rather good, and there’s the bonus of an outside bar to supplement the tea hut too! Shrewton took the tie extremely seriously to the extent that those floodlights were serviced in the days leading up the game.
I didn’t expect to see a competitive game; Chippenham play 5 promotions higher than Shrewton in the National League South, but I imagined that they’d put out a virtual reserve team which would serve to even things up a little.
Well if the team was weakened, it still managed to contain the likes of Josh Smile. The Oxonian started his career at now defunct Northway and Marston Saints but was more recently on the books of Fulham and was a regular in their age-based sides. They were far too strong for their opponents with the the final scoreline entirely reflecting the passage of place.
On one hand this was a little branch line of a game for both clubs. Shrewton will no doubt return to Wiltshire League action none the worse for the drubbing. But in the long term if they wish to return to Step 6 they’ll have some hard decisions to make. What would it take to get the ground up to grading? And which league would they find themselves in?
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