Run and Football 5 Easter Break 2023 Part 1

What better way to spend Easter than running and watching football? An extended break centered around the Cardiff City V Sunderland match on Easter Monday should enable us to get a few matches in and some new places to run. Ideal for Run and Football, Part 1 covers Friday 7th, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th April.

Forest Green Rovers V Derby County 7th April

A first home league game against Derby for Forest Green in their inaugural season in League One. A visit to the New Lawn was always going to be interesting but a village team versus one of the biggest clubs in the division made it David V Goliath. Forest Green have been missing the sling and smooth stones David used to kill the giant Goliath all season and have only scored 29 goals in 39 games. To say it hasn’t gone to plan would be an understatement.

The New Lawn from the main street in Nailsworth

About the teams

Forest Green Rovers are bottom of League One with only 26 points from 39 games. Manager Duncan Ferguson was appointed in January but has only won one game so far. After winning League Two last season 2022-23 has been an anti-climax.

Nailsworth is the smallest town to achieve promotion to the Football League with a population of under 6,000 in the 2011 census. Forest Green Rovers gained the promotion in 2017 and had previously played at the conference level since 1998.The club have played at the New Lawn since 2006 and are owned by entrepreneur Dale Vince who has claimed FGR are the first carbon neutral football club.

In contrast, Derby County were founded five years earlier than Forest Green in 1884 and were founder members of and the Football League in 1888. The club have spent most of the last 135 years in the top two divisions and won the First Division championship twice in 1972 and 1975.

As recently as 2008 Derby were in the Premier League and regularly challenged for promotion until falling into financial difficulties and administration in 2021. Relegation to League One in 2022 was followed by a mass exodus of players and new owners were only agreed in July of that year. A quick rebuild has seen the club compete in the top half of League One. Derby are just outside the playoffs and are hoping to close the gap with a win today.

Going for a run

After a six hour drive from the North East and arriving in Nailsworth 40 minutes before kick off there is no way we are going for a run.

Forest Green Rovers V Derby County

We haven’t even got into the ground and experience the highlight of the day. Our tickets say turnstiles 7-8 and we can’t find them. After asking a steward for help, he tells us they don’t exist and we need to use 5-6 which are right in front of us. He looks a bit confused, soon we find out why. “You two have a distinctive accent where are you from?” “Durham” he looks even more blankly, “near Newcastle, Sunderland” Jacob says the steward obviously hasn’t heard of those either. “North East England” one of us blurts out. He seems a little more satisfied but asks if we are home or away fans. Jacob answers neutral and he processes for a few seconds. He thought we might be Derby fans (with strong NE accents). “No mate” I say “it only takes them an hour to get here, we have been traveling for 6.” “6 hours to watch FGR, good luck with that mate!” he says as we enter the ground.

Players warming up

We turn left onto a covered terrace which is about half full. It gives a good view of the pitch if you can avoid the goal. A few scaffloding poles are erected in the corner of the stand to make a little nest with a drum taped to the top. Acoustic accompaniment to help the fans sing their songs, should be a noisy atmosphere.

South Stand Terrace

Jacob had seen an FGR South Stand On Tour sticker at Dukla Prague a few weeks ago and I’m wearing the Dukla Prague away shirt he bought from their club shop. All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit by Half Man Half Biscuit appeared in an article on football songs I wrote a few years ago.

The game

A good noise was created by the home fans as the two teams came onto the field. Derby were unsurprisingly sold out and greeted their own heroes. Forest Green kick off but still concede a penalty in the first minute. A cross from the right results in a James Collins shot which is handled by Oliver Casey. The home fans aren’t happy but the player had his arm away from his body which have been given all season. Collins dispatches the spot kick into the bottom corner 0-1 with only 2 minutes played. Understandably the Forest Green fans are subdued and the goal kills the game.

Collins scores an early penalty for Derby County some swearing is audible

Derby control possession but only create a couple of chances. Kyle McAllister has the best opportunity to level for FGR when a long ball falls at his feet but can only lob the ball wide of the goal with keeper Wildsmith beaten. Half time can’t come soon enough in a disappointing game.

Second Half

More of the same in the second half with Forest Green finding it impossible to create any chances. Derby go through the motions and the home side have a weak effort on target after 80 minutes their only shot of the game. Both sides make several substitutions before David McGoldrick intercepts a Brandon Cooper pass easily and beating Ross Doohan in the Forest Green goal with 8 minutes left. Neither side create much more and the game comes to an end. A comfortable win for Derby and FRG supporters looking forward to August. Manager Ferguson receives a good ovation from the fans as he leaves the pitch despite impending relegation.

Review of the day

Entry fee Adult £19 under 21 £10

Programme none

Attendance 4117 with 1225 away supporters

Run fun N/A

Parking availability N/A dropped off and picked up

Match entertainment 4/10

Adrian’s Pastry Index Not in attendance

Forest Green Rovers Website

Swindon Supermarine V Bracknell Town 8th April 2023

A second match in two days and a battle between two playoff hopefuls in the Southern League Premier South. In addition to another ground there was the opportunity to visit a new Parkrun with the tantalisingly titled Forest of Dean event only 3 miles away from our lodgings.

About the teams

Swindon Supermarine are celebrating their 30th anniversary having been formed in 1992 by a merger of two local clubs. The club are on track to beat their highest finish of 10th in the Southern Premier South achieved in 2011. Marine are chasing a play off place and are currently 3 points behind Poole Town who hold the final play off position. They also have the division’s top scorer in Harry Williams who has 29 goals. Hunts Copse was the original name of the club’s ground which has been knows as the Webbswood Stadium due to a sponsorship deal with a local timber business.

Bracknell Town were formed in 1896 as Old Bracknell Wanderers and changed their name to Bracknell Town in 1949. After over a century in various leagues the club were promoted to the Southern League in 2018 their first promotion to step 4 for many years. A new 2,500 capacity stadium opened in August 2021 and at the end of last season Bracknell were promoted to the Southern Premier South. The season so far has gone better than expected with the Robins in third place with games in hand over their promotion rivals.

Going for a run

After many hours in the car yesterday I’m looking forward to Parkrun this morning. I’m not a frequent attender (my last Parkrun was August 2022 in Northamptonshire) but live to try a different course when away. New Forest Parkrun sounds like it should be a hilly challenge but the course is based around school playing fields and can only be described as undulating.

Parkrun briefing

The course is two enjoyable laps of school fields, tracks and “muddy bank” which was unfortunately dry. I’m disappointed to run 21.15 as this is a course which should suit me but it is a good start to a busy day. I’d recommend the course but the race director said they would be introducing a new one next week. It looks like the children are ignoring the no ball games sign.

No football sign with two ball marks below it

Swindon Supermarine V Bracknell Town

Free car parking for 250 vehicles it says on the Supermarine website. By the time we arrive half an hour before kick off 249 are already taken and we sneak into the last one. The queues at the one open turnstile suggest there will be a bumper crowd to be entertained by the two promotion seeking teams. While we wait in the queue a model car racing circuit entertains us.

Model car racing circuit next to the football ground

The game

Inside the ground Jacob enjoys visiting the club shop buying some old programmes for 50p. We look for somewhere to stand and take a position near the corner flag. Bracknell fans are behind the goal and make some noise with three drums and a cowbell. Both sides looked to play football from the start of the game and were evenly matched. Swindon had the ball in the net after 17 minutes but it was disallowed for an infringement of the goalkeeper. We didn’t have a good view from our vantage point at the opposite end of the stadium but the home fans at the other end were certain the goal should have stood.

Team line ups outside the entrance

Top scorer Williams broke through on the half hour beating the keeper but seeing his shot rebound off the post. Goalkeeper Mike Eacott saved the shot from the rebound when to fell to James Harding. Both sides have a few half chances as the game moves towards half time. The home support were shocked on 44 minutes when Ethan Burden tried a cross from the right hand side which was mishit and flew over Marine keeper Charlie Searle. The home side continue to take out their frustrations on the referee as the half finishes.

First half action

Second half

Bracknell have their best spell of the game in the first few minutes of the second half. Some nice interplay creates a chance for Joe Grant who emphatically doubles the lead on 47 minutes. Swindon are shaken back into life and start to create chances of their own. In the 57th minute a nice passing move ended with Harry Williams halving the deficit, 1-2, game on. Marine do their best to level, even pushing centre half Tyrone Duffus further forward but a mix of good defending and a couple of 50/50 refereeing calls which don’t go their way see the game finish 1-2 to the visitors.

Bracknell withstand late pressure

A huge effort from both sides and a draw would probably have been a fairer result. Bracknell will hope the injuries they picked up aren’t too serious but I wouldn’t be surprised if centre back Adam Richards is out until August with what looked like a hamstring injury. They look in a good position to at least make the playoffs. Marine realistically need to win their last 4 games to have a chance of extending their season.

Bracknell players leave the field

A bit of a disappointing end to this one as goalscorer Harry Williams decided it was a good idea to shout “you’re fucking shit ref” through the officials door at full time. Throughout the game the officials were sworn at and every decision challenged by the players despite the many signs around the ground warning spectators would be evicted for bad language. Players need to take responsibility too.

Review of the day

Entry fee Adult (over 16) £11

Programme £2.50 40 pages

Attendance 512

Run fun 2/10

Parking availability 8/10

Match entertainment 8/10

Adrian’s Pastry Index Jacob tried a sausage roll from Mark’s and Spencer “alright 6/10 chicken and bacon sandwich better”

Swindon Supermarine Website

Run on Strava

9th April 2023

No football today just a run. Tracy took us to The Weir Garden situated on a bend in the river Wye. There are plenty of annuals to see and I’d expect much more colour in a few months. Tracy and Jess walk round a loop of the grounds while I run a few laps.

Near the entrance

There are very handy notices giving information on various plants and developments which are black with white writing a nice contrast to green and brown. A few of the paths are a bit tight for running when other visitors are using them but despite the stop, start parts of the run it is quite fun. The best part is trying to run a bit faster then slower to hit the gaps in visitors. I get round 5 laps before we head back to the accommodation.

View from the top of the hill

Next up Part 2 … Cardiff City V Sunderland, Eastleigh V Gateshead and ???????

The Weir Garden website

Run on Strava

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