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Saturday 1st October 2022 ko 14:00

Westmorland Junior Cup 1st Round

MILLHEAD 2 (Salkerd 15 Shaw 66)

LUNESDALE UNITED 11 (Wharton 9 24 77 Mandle 13 O Jackson 13 54 Collison 34 42 68p B Jackson 47 Huddleston 85)

Att c20

Free Entry

I suspect any groundhopper who either has visited Iodine Park, or is about to do so gets asked the same question, and that is where is it? The answer is of course Carnforth in North Lancashire, and anyone who has ever watched David Lean’s classic film “Brief Encounter” should do as we did and factor in time to visit the station beforehand.

Famously the station and cafe were used in the film even if these days Noel Coward doesn’t announce the trains. But the cafe does do a mighty fine lunch and the museum there is well worth a visit. 

In groundhopping terms there are grounds that every single groundhopper will be interested in, Glentoran would be one, but there are others that slip under many radars. Maybe it’s because the fixtures aren’t on an App, or there’s no programme, or the league is below a certain level. These gems should be on every hopper’s bucket list, in my mind I’ve got a list of ones to visit, and with free Saturday, I thought absolutely nothing of sitting in a car for 5 hours plus.

So what makes Iodine Park so special? Part of it is that is in an old limestone quarry, the rock face a sheer face behind one goal, and the name an ironic comment on treating the cuts made by bits of flint sticking up from the pitch. And of course, there’s Dave’s target, apparently that used to be Dom’s target, but when Dom left it was changed. But Dave’s now left too, and Dom’s wife told me he wants his name restored… 

The ground clearly used to be a multi-sport facilty, but now seems to be dominated by football, even the old bowling green is being repurposed for Millhead’s children’s teams. Make no mistake though, Iodine Park oozes northern grit and industry.

The big surprise this season was that Millhead have switched from being a northern outpost of the North Lancashire League to being the southernmost club in the Westmorland League. I’ll admit that part of the attraction of this tie was that it involved Lunesdale United their Maurice Park home is visible from the M6 just south of Tebay Services. It is a bucolic place, I loved it there, but then a lot of grounds in the Westmorland League are! I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn by commenting that if there’s one league I’d love to see an organised hop in it’s this one!

The game saw Division 4 Millhead against Division 3 Lunesdale, but it the gap in status doesn’t really explain the drubbing Lunesdale dished out here. I do know Millhead had some key players missing, and I suspect that Lunesdale hit a real purple patch that day. 

Whatever the truth of it, it looks like the score has largely been forgotten, both sides are doing well in their respective divisions. And to be honest so have I, yes we all love to see goals, but this was so much of what I love. Two friendly clubs, playing an entertaining game, in a quite wonderful ground. You really don’t need anything else.