Saturday 16th October 2021 ko 14:00
Bristol Premier Combination Division 1
D.R.G. S.V. FRENCHAY 8 (Hyslop 4p 35 Sterling 31 Van-Meir 33 Hudson 65 Holden 67 Day 69 May 83og)
MENDIP BROADWALK RESERVES 0
For me half the fun of travel is the sometimes unique set of circumstances that lead you somewhere. It was leaving day after Robyn and I’s week in Penzance and such are the realities of Covid cleaning protocols, we had to be out by 9am. Normally we’d have looked for something Cornish to watch but in addition we needed to be back in Oxford for roughly 7pm. What it all added up to was us visiting a club I’d wanted to visit for 6 years, but never thought I’d visit this way.
If you’ve ever visited Bristol then I’ve little doubt you’ve passed by DRG Frenchay. If you leave the M4 and head south on the M32 you’ll see the double 3G pitch on the right used by Rockleaze Rangers in the Gloucestershire County League, then on the left Shaftesbury Park home to Dings Crusaders RUFC. But look closely next door to the rugby ground (but not too closely if you’re driving!) and you’ll see Frenchay Park, home to DRG SV Frenchay.
Now imagine how many times I’ve driven down the M32 over the last 6 years, firstly dating Robyn and now seeing family now we’re married. And each glancing to my left, and fancying seeing a game there; how did I manage to wait so long?
I suppose the first thing we need to deal with is the abbreviations. The DRG is Dickinson Robinson Group who made paper-based products, mainly stationery- chances are you’ve used a Basildon Bond-made envelope. The firm was a merger of Hertfordshire- based Dickenson’s and E S & A Robinson Packaging based originally in Bedminster, Bristol, close by to this game’s visitors! The club moved from Bedminster to the works ground in Carston’s Lane, Mangotsfield, changing their name from DRG to DRG (FP) along the way. When the ground was sold and demolished in the 1990’s the club merged with Stapleton FC and moved here to Frenchay Park, and became DRG Stapleton from 2001-2012; you can see the painted-over signage on the front of the clubhouse
The SV stands for Soundwell Victoria, a Bristol & District League outfit that merged into DRG Frenchay in June 2019. From 1987 to 2013 the club played in the Gloucestershire County League, and its legacy is the dugouts and pitchside rail I’d spotted from the motorway. Those 2 neighbouring grounds are both visible from Frenchay Park, as is the Purdown BT Tower in Stoke Park, a cousin of the tower overlooking Stokenchurch and the means by which Bristol listens to stations such as Classic FM and Kiss FM.
These days the club plays two rungs below the County League and the game saw a quirk of football in Bristol. Mendip Broadwalk’s first XI play in the Somerset County League, even though they graduated from the Gloucestershire affiliated Bristol Premier Combination. Or putting it another way, if DRG were to regain their Gloucestershire County League status, they wouldn’t ever play each other in a league game!
The game was far too one-sided to be enjoyable to watch as DRG ran riot against a Broadwalk side that gradually grew more disillusioned as their beating got worse. I felt for them, but DRG were better in every department and the scoreline was entirely realistic.