Coal, Football, Glastonbury, groundhopping, Non League, Peasedown Athletic, Peasedown Miners Welfare, Peasedown St John, Somerset County League, Western League
Saturday 1st December 2018 ko 14.00
Somerset County League Division 2
PEASEDOWN MINERS WELFARE 0
GLASTONBURY 1 (McCabe 85)
I threw the car into the space behind the goal just as the game kicked off. It hadn’t helped that I was at my second ground in Peasedown St John, I’d parked up at the cricket ground as Peasedown Albion were warming up. That ground needs a revisit, not least as a stand isn’t a usual feature in there Mid-Somerset League. It wasn’t far from one ground to the other, no more than 400 yards and you can see one game from the other. I didn’t exactly get much chance to reflect on how on earth I’d ended up in Somerset coal mining country.
Robyn and I had been booking a florist for our wedding in Weston-super-mare. That was interesting, I knew nothing of such things, plain or self-raising was the limit of my knowledge, but once over and Robyn ensconced with her family in Bristol the opportunities seemed endless. Then however the rain intervened.
I found myself quickly running out of options as games fell to waterlogged pitches and eventually I found myself with what amounted to a simple option. Do I aim for north Bristol and Rockleaze Rangers at their new ground on 3G, or head south to Peasedown Rangers on grass. I normally treat 3G pitches as wet weather insurance policies, and I knew GroundhopUK’s Chris Berezai was at Peasedown, and he could confirm the game was on. In the end my duel with the back lanes heading south made sense, of a fashion!
Without ever really meaning to, I’d stumbled upon something interesting. I can’t say I’d heard about Peasedown Miners Welfare, I knew about Peasedown Athletic, but when I realised they are different names for the same club, the pieces fell into place.
The club dates back to the end of the 19th century as Peasedown St John and were Western League members from 1911 to 1925. They returned to the Western League as Peasedown Miners Welfare in 1939 and secured their highest ever league position, 4th in an single 11 team division in that first season. After the Second World World War the club continued in the Western League, entering the FA Cup too, reaching the 4th Qualifying Round in 1945/6.
But the club’s halcyon days were behind them, and as the coalfields were gradually exhausted and closed they gradually slid down the Western League, finally leaving in 1960. They sank all the way down to the Bath & District League, only graduating to the Somerset League, now renamed Peasdown Athletic, reverting back to Miners Welfare in 2016.
As well appointed as the ground is, I’m not sure it accurately reflects the club’s history. Perhaps I’m overthinking it, here’s a club playing at the 10th level of non-league with an enclosed, railed ground with stand, and enjoy it all for what it is. The co-incidence of course was this was a clash of ex-Western League clubs, although Glastonbury‘s stint was a lot more recent!
The game was attritional, with neither side having the wherewithal to force their will on the game. Eventually frustrations began to bubble over, and when Dan McCabe finally forced home Glastonbury’s winner late referee Kevin Rawlings did well to keep his cards in his pocket. There was even a set-to by the changing rooms after it was all over.
I headed back to Bristol in reflective mood. My travels round the football grounds of the UK have always shown a tendency towards tough, committed football in former mining areas, such as South Wales, and South Yorkshire. This was no different, even if there was precious little to suggest coal was ever king here. Perhaps that’s why the club reverted to an old name, understanding your roots is important.