Friday 26th September 2008 ko 19.45
East Midlands Counties League
DUNKIRK 2 (Senko 51 Smith 78)
HEANOR TOWN 1 (Wells 81)
Att 113 at Ron Steel Sports Ground, Lenton Lane, Nottingham
When I wrote about Stockwood Wanderers a few weeks ago, I compared the 3 clubs cheek by jowl in southern Bristol as akin to the Lenton Lane treble of Bilborough Pelican, Dunkirk and Greenwood Meadows in Nottingham. In terms of this blog there is a catch- if you’ve clicked the Dunkirk link you’d have spotted that that game was on Dunkirk’s second pitch. Since there’s time with 2 weeks worth of lockdown left, let’s put that right!
This was something of a mission for me, I’d missed out on the 2004 Central Midlands League Hop where the Lenton Lane clubs were the first 3 hosts of a 5 game day that finished at Kimberley Town and Sandiacre Town.
I should explain that the name Dunkirk has nothing to do with the French port town, even through the club’s nickname is “The Boatmen!” Having the River Trent running all the way through the city and adjacent to the ground does lend itself to nautical references! This Dunkirk is a suburb of south-eastern Nottingham a mile or two from Lenton Lane. The club was founded in 1946 and graduated from the Notts Amateur League to the Notts Senior League in 1991, before switching to the Central Midlands League in 1995.
That was in the days when the Central Mids’ naming policy took grade inflation to new levels, so entered the lower Premier Division but won promotion to the Supreme (or as a few hoppers called it, the “Chicken”) division a year later.
From there the club became founder members of the Step 6 East Midlands Counties League in 2008, won it in 2010, but were relegated back from the Midland League in 2019. This season they’re still playing in the East Midlands Counties League. The likes of Wes Morgan (Leicester City) and Jake Sheridan (Notts County and Lincoln City) started their careers at Dunkirk.
This game saw them beat another stalwart of the East Midlands football scene, Heanor Town; does anyone ever pronounce the “H?” and they too are currently playing EMCL football.
But there is a sadness in this little tale of Nottingham football and it’s that these days if you ask someone “Who plays at Lenton Lane?” the answer is devastatingly simple- just Dunkirk. The Brian Wakefield Ground- Bilborough Pelican’s ground is now used mainly for cricket, and the Lenton Lane Ground- home to Greenwood Meadows now has the Nottingham Outlaws Rugby League team as tenants.
I suppose I should take some solace in that one ground is still fully in use as a football ground and that all 3 are in use. But on the odd occasion I pass over the Clifton flyover and glance to my left I do regret that you can’t (in theory) see 3 football matches on 3 different grounds in less than a day. They were good days.