Blidworth Welfare 1 Calverton Miners Welfare 5

Tuesday 13th May 2008
Blidworth Welfare 1 Calverton Miners Welfare 5
Abacus Lighting Central Midlands Football League Manor Pharmacy Premier Division
At: Welfare Ground, Mansfield Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission:£2; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Attendance: 55 (headcount)
Weather: dry, initially sunny
Duration: first-half: 47:05; second-half: 48:18

Come the middle of May, it can often be difficult to find games with something at stake. So, it was somewhat pleasing to find the outcome of this Central Midlands League game in the Manor Pharmacy Premier Division would have an impact on the final league table.

I wasn't alone as the Blidworth attraction brought in around ten travellers, also keen to watch a match that mattered. A win for Calverton would guarantee them the runners-up spot Amongst those present were Malc and Kev and you can read Malc’s report on his On The Road blog.

Visitors Calverton Miners Welfare went into the game in third position knowing that a victory would guarantee them the runners-up spot on goal difference at the expense of Yorkshire Main. Blidworth were also hoping to win and move into the top half of the table. As it turned out, visitors eased to a 5-1 win with striker Ben Middleton bagging a hat-trick.

Blidworth Miners Welfare FC, founded in 1926 as Folk House Old Boys, play at the Blidworth Miners Welfare Social Club (called The Welfare Ground) on Mansfield Road. Travelling from the village up the hill towards Rainworth and Mansfield, the ground is not visible from the road but the entrance is on the right just after passing the Fire Station. The car park is that used by the Social Centre and cricket club.

From the car park to get to the ground itself, go through the gate in the steel railings to the left of the white building and be greeted by a manicured cricket field. Continue to the left for around 20 yards then follow the direction for visitors to the left of the wooden building.

My arrival was perfectly timed as, less than a minute later, the programmes (a 28 pager) arrived so I joined a short queue of other travellers waiting to purchase the essential reading matter. Programmes, incidentally, sold for £1 and admission was £2. The white cover contained a colour team photo and all the essential match details; team line-ups in the centre. Inside was a variety of articles including opposition history and pen pics, club news and statistics.

Then came the unexpected surprise that is Blidworth Welfare's ground. Nearly always, non-league grounds are entered at pitch level but here the entrance is at the top of the bank with a great view of the playing surface, stands and floodlights several metres below. At this top level is the tea bar and changing rooms. There is a flight of steps down to the near corner of the pitch with a railing down the middle separating spectators from players. There is a stand behind the near goal containing around ten rows of tip-up individual seats. At the far end of the near touchline running from halfway towards the corner flag is a narrow wooden stand containing two rows of bench seating. There floodlight pylons rise up along each side and the pitch certainly had a good covering of grass

Once the action got underway - Blidworth kick-off in sunshine - Calverton (in yellow and blue), attacking the seated-stand end, really should have taken the lead inside the first 30 seconds. Rhys Davies somehow missed the target from a few yards out with the keeper beaten. But the visitors took a 5th-minute lead when Middleton netted with a close-range tap-in.

I began the game sat on a bench but the low sun posed viewing problems so I moved to the opposite side of the ground close to the dugouts. Certainly a better view of the action and Mark Frost did well to block a shot from Craig Boulton at the expense of a corner.

Calverton continued to create chances and doubled their lead in the 42nd minute. Poor defending allowed Warren Hatfield to hammer the ball home low from inside the area. Blidworth pulled a goal back in stoppage time with Shaun Vincent firing low through a crowded area from just outside the area.

Any hopes the home side had of salvaging a point were all but ended within five minutes of the restart when first Boulton and Middleton both find the net to give Calverton an unassailable 3-1 and then 4-1 lead. Middleton wrapped up the scoring in stoppage time at the end. The striker completed a hat-trick latching on to a throughball, slipping past the advancing keeper and slotting into an unguarded net.

Blidworth Welfare (red with black centre stripe / black / black): 1.Mark Frost, 2. Julian Topliss, 3. John Greaves, 4. Leighton Pollard, 5. Michael Clarke, 6. Gary Whitworth, 7. Liam Best (capt), 8. Josh Parker, 16. Shaun Vincent, 10. Murray Campbell, 11. Kier Webster. Subs: 12. Kevin Price (for Greaves, 84), 14. Jason Westwood (for Whitworth, 58), 15. James Wright (for Campbell, 87).

Calverton Miners Welfare (yellow with blue hoops / blue / yellow): 1. Lance Walker, 2. Jason Sibers, 3. Jonathan Dakers (capt), 4. Mark Corcoran, 5. Corey Nightingale, 6. Barry Payne, 7. Craig Boulton, 8. Rhys Davies, 9. Ben Middleton, 10. Warren Hatfield, 11. Sam Goodson. Subs: 12. Michael Randal (not used), 14. Dominic Clark (not used), 15. Liam Hatfield (for Dakers, 60).

Referee: Elliott Heward (Grimsby).
Assistants: Mark Eyre and J. Dixon.

Goals: 0-1 Ben Middleton (5) 0-2 Warren Hatfield (42) 1-2 Shaun Vincent (45+2) 1-3 Craig Boulton (48) 1-4 Ben Middleton (50) 1-5 Ben Middleton (90)

Blidworth: none Calverton: Warren Hatfield (YC, 45+1)