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Sunday 5th March 2023 ko 11:45

North West Counties League Division One South

BROCTON 1 (Smith 61)


Curbishley sent off 76 (2nd booking)

Att 457

Entry £6

Programme £2

Sunday on the hop dawned, and as a coachload of hoppers kept a Stafford hotel’s staff busy replenishing the bacon at the breakfast bar. I contemplated the day’s football, two Stafford-based teams, or in purely personal terms two revisits! Brocton is a village to the south east of Stafford but the club bearing their game play at the former Staffordshire Police Ground in Silkmore Lane, in Stafford itself.

That move happened in 2006, and in October 2009 I saw Brocton beat the now defunct Pelsall Villa 3-0. If only I’d had the camera I do now!

It had been a long time ago, but my memory of the place was the modular buildings and the “Arena” stands that got Silkmore Lane up to standards for firstly the Midland League, and now the North West Counties League. Back in 2009 it wasn’t a place to stir the senses, and to be brutally honest I wasn’t particularly looking forward to revisiting.

How wrong I was, and as ever I like every groundhopper need to be reminded every so often that bricks and mortar don’t make football clubs, people do, and from the moment I parked up Brocton proved that point, time after time.

Normally GroundhopUK wouldn’t recommend taking both the gate, directing cars, and selling programmes all from one point, but once programme sales were separated, the gents on the gate moved cars at a quite amazing rate. It all helped to set a new ground record, beating the 362 when the newly reformed Hereford FC visited here in 2015.

But it was the little touches that appealed. The teamsheets available to anyone who wanted one, with an honesty plate for club funds. The excellence of the bacon rolls, and the fulsome welcome, I could carry on but I think you’ve got the gist of it. Another little bonus from my perspective was seeing Stockport Georgians getting their first sight of the groundhop experience. As a club new to the NWCFL they’ll both be seeing a lot of groundhoppers turning up under their own steam, but in the fulness of time will be hosts themselves. On both levels Brocton will have given them an excellent steer on how to cope with ourselves, a most peculiar strain of football fan.

The home win was, perhaps predictable, but Brocton were made to work hard for it, even after Curbishley’s two quick cautions. But as the cavalcade slowly snaked its way across Stafford towards the hop’s final game, it was clear that Brocton had achieved much to be proud of, and not just the result on the pitch.