The Onion Bag Awards 2010


Best Ground Visited 2010 ..

 To be honest i cant choose my favourite ground and we have 5 tied for first place.
Below you will see photos of the entrances to the grounds. For many more pics inside each ground  ....

If you have visited all of these grounds , please be kind enough to leave a comment as to which is your favourite.... many thanks,

  •  West View - Bacup Borough
  • Shawbridge- Clitheroe
  • The Dovecote - Shepshed Dynamo
  • Seel Park - Mossley
  • Victoria Park - Burscough
1st Place ...    Worst Ground Visited 2010
AFC HORNCHURCH - Hornchurch Stadium
Thought this ground lacked everything really and is not recommended as a tick. The welcome was ok and the bar was acceptable. The more i walked around this ground the more i didnt like it. The pitch is too far away from the pitch to gather any atmosphere. The clubhouse also was too far away from the pitch which didn't help as it looked more like a school trip as the players came out. The food was very poor tasteless and expensive. I didn't stand behind either goal as the view was very poor and too far away from the action. One Official i met was very kurt when i asked him a couple of questions about the stadium and team which was unwelcomed. Obviously the stadium doubles up with an athletic club hence the huge shot put/ Hammer net behind one goal and the sand pit behind the other goal. Poor atmosphere, poor match, tasteless and over priced food made this one ground hop i prefer to forget.
  • Arriva Stadium - Marine FC - another 3 sided ground but on my visit was restricted to only one side. So was unable to roam around as i enjoy to take pics from all angles.
  • Causeway Lane - Matlock Town - this was only due to being half built, 2 sides out of action. The other two sides were ok to be fair. Atmosphere lacked mainly due to the players walking a hundred yards from the changing rooms. The Matlock folk seemed a depressing bunch, and was awkward for parking.
1st Place ...      Most Friendly Club 2010
Set up in the High Peaks on the Cheshire/Derbyshire border lies this friendly club. New Mills was known for coal mining until cotton took over, but now days a decent club on a upward curve setting the pace in the Premier Division of the North West Counties League. From the moment i arrived at Church Lane, i somehow felt at home especially after the welcome given to me by John, a club official who was monitoring the gates until my departure a few fun filled hours later. Normally i have found committee members to be stand offish and somewhat "above" us humble visitors but not here. As soon as they learnt the distance i had travelled to watch this evenings match they could not do enough for me. So much so i was presented with a Club Mug which i thought was a lovely gesture and one i appreciated deeply, not through monetary value but because it was given with genuine sincerity, which is quite rare in today's world.

In turn all the committee members spoke with me and at half time i was invited into the VIP Lounge as a guest and new found friend. The night was very cold so a cup of their finest brew was most welcome, which also helped wash down a smogersbord of delights at the half-time buffet sponsored by Mr Kipling !.
It was clearly evident as to how passionate and caring everyone was for "their Club" .
I sincerely hope they gain promotion this season because they really deserve it. Even from afar i manage to keep one eye out for their results.
The fact that the match had eleven goals also helped the enjoyable occasion. We had a few drinks after in the bar with some great conversation. The fact that i also manged to miss four of the goals only added to a great evening and made me more determined to return to this very friendly club, which fully deserves the attention from any serious ground hopper or football lover.
 Full details of my Amazing visit to New Mills .... click here
Also highly recommended :
Known by many as a ground hoppers dream , Seel Park did not disappoint in any department. I was particually looking forward to visiting this little gem of a ground from the research i had previously undertaken. I arrived extra early in order to take plenty of pictures before the hordes arrived. The welcome i received in the clubhouse from those who were aware of where i had travelled from was most uplifting. I was even giving a free cup of coffee for my efforts. I met some really good people, Darren a life long fan remains firmly in my memory. It was his first home game since his father had sadly passed away that summer, the person he had stood with on the terraces all those years come what may. He met every game with renewed incurable optimism for his beloved boys in black and white. The fact that the club gave him the honor of a minutes silence only added to how wonderful it was to be in his company at that time. Again this was an excellent day but the fact i knew i would return one day to stand on those terraces steeped in history , made the departure a little easier.
Shepshed Dynamo 
The guys from Butt Hole Lane made me very welcome , we had a great evening. It was made better by the following for the opponents Bedworth United . The boys from the Bedworth Boot Room were excellent value and full of cracking little stories of their travels following the green army.
The Shepshed staff could not have been more freindly and helpful. This is the only ground i have been to the mens loo by exciting the ground walking 50 yards down a muddy road. A memorable evening was spent in Leicstershire.

    JOINT WINNERS  1st Place ..Worst Food 2010 


     Must admit it was so hard to choose which  was worse  they both won ! I am not sure if it was something to do with the water in Tameside but boy the food was awful and tasteless at both venues.
    At Curzon i opted for a Steak and Kidney Pie, they had no peas and no gravy so already i was not happy. I was given it inside a paper bag from the heater. The crust was dry and tasteless and i counted 1 little kidney inside a few little bits of so called meat - in fact i have seen more meat on a butchers pencil ! and to cap it all of little or no gravy, obviously it had dried out from its time spent in the heater.
    Down the road at the Butchers Arms, Droylsden it was not much better and was more expensive. It was obvious this 'bad boy' was from the same caterers. In fact it was such a bad taste i could still taste the tasteless 'food' some hours later, even after some trying to swill it down with a few cups of their awful stewed coffee. Not the best of culinary experiences.

    2nd Place - Hornchurch - Over priced burnt tasteless burger on stale bread all washed down with 'warm' tango. For dessert i was given an out of date Mars Bar. The only positive was the decent After Dinner Coffee.

        1st Place ...   BEST  Food 2010

    Whilst visiting this great little ground i got talking to some Barrow fans with time to kill before the gates were opened, i decided to join the queue outside the Fish & Chip shop just across the road from the ground. It turned out to be the correct decision as the Cod and Chips i had were the most delicious by far, i had eaten for a very long time. The coating on the fish was perfect, dry not greasy and tasty which complimented the thick cut juicy white cod. Seasoned to perfection with lemon wedges and black pepper. The chips were also just perfectly cooked with the exact amount of salt and vinegar on them. Sensible priced at £4 , they were so tasty and filling i have a good mind to return there even on a non match day !

     Now this was a hard one as all five were really yummy , all for different reasons. But have decided to split into two sections. Best food inside and near a football ground.

    Alfreton Town

    The Alfreton food was delicious. Tasty Steak pie in rich gravy with a lovely puff pastry, with perfect mushy peas and tasty mint sauce to add that little kick. The only negatives was too much gravy over flowed onto my trousers, the coffee burnt my tongue. The price was double that of Matlock's version which was also decent

    AFC Emley
    AFC Emley
    This pie was particually welcome due to the weather and cold wind. The tea hut at Emley is situated at the side of the main stand and is run by two freindly ladies. It was actually served on a China Dish with real cutlery - very rare to see now days at any ground. The tasty chicken  pie was helped with a generous portion of homemade pea broth, thick and full of goodness. With a generous dollop of mint sauce.
    The only downside was and empty plate but also having to return the finest denby china and cutlery to the kitchen, but that was a small price to pay !

    Bacup Borough
    Within five minutes of entering West View the Homemade Pie was the topic of conversation. The chap on the gate couldn't speak more highly of this culinary masterpiece "as seen on sky tv ".
    Must admit it was delicious and above all it was homemade. The pastry was quality. When asked to the ingredients , i was only given a shake of the head to say "cant possibly tell you". The meat, potato and vegetable pie accompanied by mushy peas was a big hit. The only downside being the size of the portion as it left you wanting more. I must confess its the only time apart from the Matlock Pie i had urges to return for second helpings. But the fact that it was homemade that afternoon makes it a real winner .

     1st Place ...BEST PHOTO 2010 WINNER  
     This photo was taken at West View , home of Bacup Borough. Set high up in the Lancashire hills, the ground just oozes old world days of non league football.My reasons for enjoying this photo so much is that the whole setting looks so peaceful and serene. The rain had relented at this point and the dampness actually adds to the charm of the surrounding countryside. The stand has obviously seen better days but is still obviously loved. The angle of the roof of the stand, together with the goal fully compliment the perspective of the stone wall which gets lower as it reaches the far corner flag due to the contours of the pitch. The nets behind the goal gently flutter in a soft breeze, whilst the past rain storm has left traces on the nearby rooftops. All the angles compliment each other fantastically all capped off by the rolling Lancashire hills running down to this cracking ground.

     2nd Place
    Taken at Shawbridge, Clitheroe. Rickety old stand from years back . The muddy goal area is protected by what looks like a fishing net to stop wayward balls from being lost. in between the goal and housing is the directors lounge ...All nestled in residential 2 up 2 down terraced housing with the spire of the local church keeping an eye on everything.
      3rd Place
    Seel Park home of Mossley is where this decent pic was taken. It is liked because of how it depicts real non league football. The casual way the fans just stand on the old terraces, mixing in with anybody. All set in sunshine whilst enjoying a dent game and no matter what the result they will return at the next home game. But if you take a closer look you will see a young kid standing watching the match at the bottom of the terrace, it is clearly evident that generational heirachy is apparant as you get higher on the terracing.
    Best Match Seen 2010    -   1st Place 

    Curzon Ashton 2 v Chorley  6
    Evo North Division 
    Now this was a cracker of a game from start to finish. Chorley were 2-0 up after 2 minutes ! Then after five minutes 2-1. The game quick, high tempo, and physical. It was also an excellent advert for this league.  Goals galore on a very slick pitch which was in excellent condition .

    Worst Match Seen 2010

    Burscough 0 v Colwyn Bay 0
    Evo North Division

    On a bitterly cold November evening i witnessed the worst game of the year. In fact i am not sure which team was worse as they were both lucky to get nil.
     Halfway through the first half i was thinking to myself that this game has nil nil written all over it. The first shot on target came in the 89th minute when a Colwyn Bay forward ballooned the ball over the bar from on the goal line. All he had to do was nudge it froward 6 inches ! That just summed up the the game.
    The only positives were the excellent peppered steak pie and the excellent ground Victoria Park is, allowing for some excellent photos to be taken. At least my journey home allowed me enough time to erase this very poor game from my memory.

      Ramsbottom United

      Saturday 20th November - Vodkat Prem League
      Ramsbottom United 2 v Maine Road 1
      Gate : £6
      Ground: Excellent ground right next to the Cricket Ground and East Lancs Railway, very scenic 8/10
      Food: Pie and Peas £1.50 - not bad taste but could be better point deducted for no gravy ! 5/10
      Match Enjoyment: Really good game, both teams going for it. But Rammy just deserved the victory

      More pics from Ramsbottom's ground ...

      Had a really nice day at this lovely little ground located next to the East Lancashire Steam Railway, which passed during the game. For some reason my funniest moment here was in the tea hut. Behind the counter 4 elderly gentlemen were in a heated debate about of all things ...... Tea Bags ! One in particular was determined they should only put 4 tea bags in the giant tea pot instead of 5 they argued whilst i was waiting for my cup of tea for what seemed like ages. When they finally turned their backs and acknowledged my presence i decided to ask for a 'Tall skinny latte' Coffee  !!!  The response was less than flattering !
      Great non league ground.

      Her name is Linda ......

      Saturday 20th November

      What Linda decides , Linda usually gets ...
      To break up with Linda is too much for me to bare .. i need Linda so badly.
      If Linda says "sharp left here" that's exactly what i do - basically i do everything Linda tells me to do.

      Linda has decided that on saturday we will be going to either Rossendale or Ramsbottom for the afternoon.

      *I love you Linda

      PS- Linda is my Sat Nav !

      New Mills AFC

      Derbyshire Senior Cup
      New Mills 11 (eleven) v Parkhouse 0
      Gate: £6
      Atten: 83
      Food/ Drink: Excellent hot dog with loads of Onions £1.60 Coffee 75p Mars 45p
      Ground: lovely ground situated in the High Peaks of Derbyshire, surrounded by north west pennine countryside.  9/10 - a must tick !
      Match Entertainment - 10/10 simply an outstanding evening in every way !

      Pics of New Mills (18)

      It was not very difficult to decide which game to go to this evening as this was the only game tonight within sensible driving distance. However many times i had heard really good things about this club, so a visit to Church Lane  was inevitable at some stage ... and tonight was the night !

      New Mills AFC  is actually located in Derbyshire but lies only a few miles from Stockport and even less from the Cheshire border.Within  comparatively few years, has risen to importance in the manufacturing district; cotton spinning being carried on here to a considerable extent, affording employment to numerous hands.
      Street scene - New Mills , High Peaks Derbyshire
       The Millers play in the North West Counties League and to date are having a fine season, with promotion very much on their agenda. If promotions were obtained they would probably join the Evo South because of their location. This would give them many long journeys- too many in fact !. Common sense says to join the Evo North is the better option but we know that wouldn't happen. If future promotions were won they would then end up in the Conference South !!! ... Ebbsfleet away is a lovely thought !
      The opponents this evening were Parkhouse Fc , participants from the Central Midlands Supreme Division are based near Chesterfield, they played in a Blackpool Strip and it was a shame that Ian Holloway was not on the touchline !.

      I arrived in plenty of time as usual to take my usual photos but because of darkness my usual standard was not achieved.  I started to chat with a New Mills Representative John , a very pleasant chap who was great fun through out  the evening and full of interesting stories. He couldn't believe where this ground hopper had driven from for tonight's occasion.

      Word soon spread around the ground that there was a mad ground hopper present and the more who heard the kinder the welcome i received so much so later i was presented with a Club Mug as a momento of the occasion. It was a lovely gesture, which made me feel very humble in appreciation.

      As usual i walked round the ground with only one regret , that i had not visited this great little ground in daylight to fully appreciate its location.

      The Millers had just been knocked out of the FA Vase only 48 hours earlier to Ashington from the Northern League under contraversial  circumstances and the locals were less than impressed.
      Both teams came out for the start via the biggest and widest players tunnel in non league football. Basically it was two steel fences to seperate the players from the masses ... all 83 of them  !
      The biggest players tunnel ever ! and the Tea Hut

      The game was only a few minutes old , when the smell from the Tea Hut caught my attention. I went over and ordered a hot dog and a Coffee, whilst waiting for my order i carried on watching the game ..... "would you like onions with that ?" as i turned to answer the girl in the kitchen a cheer went up , it was 1-0 ! i had taken my eyes off the game for a second and missed the goal ! DAM !

      Whilst enjoying my hot dog i asked an 'old boy' standing next to me what the goal was like, then as he was describing it to me another cheer went up .... 2-0 ! we had both missed the goal !! Double dam ! So two goals had been scored and i had missed both of them !
      The game was already stretched and enjoyable when 15 minutes later Pat the Treasurer had asked the 'old boy' and myself if we wanted to buy a raffle ticket for half time draw. As we both turned to buy a ticket , another cheer went up ... 3-0 !! and i had missed that one as well , unbelievable ! The 'old boy' had also missed two goals because of me as well !! - The Millers pressed forward and before half time had scored two more goals, and i saw them both !!  5-0 !
      At Half Time i was invited into the VIP Lounge from the Committee for some Tea , which was very welcomed on this very cold evening. I was made very welcomed inside the lounge and as usual the conversation was football ! I was asked by Pat the treasurer would i mind drawing the winning raffle ticket , out i plucked Ticket number 849 - minutes later appeared the winner , I couldn't believe it , it was the  same 'old boy' who had missed two goals because of me !! All we could do was laugh !
      I hadn't finished my tea when the players were already out to begin the second half. Duncan the Secretary encouraged me to take the fine china cup outside and finish of the tea watching the game. When i finished my tea i thought to myself i had better take the china mug back in case i broke it. I popped back into the lounge put the cup on the table and as i did another cheer went up ... i had missed another goal it was now 6-0 and i had missed 4 goals !
      Not to worry moments later it became 7-0 .. watch it here ....
      To be fair to Parkhouse despite 4 more goals being scored to make it 11-0 ! their heads never dropped and they kept trying to the final whistle and their goalie made some more decent saves to keep the score respectable ! without him it could have been 16-0 at least ! He had a good sense of humour as well and the home fans were 'advising' him to go up for a corner if they were to get one !

      The final whistle blew and both teams were applauded off the pitch and again down the 'widest players tunnel in non league football' , the game was played in great spirit, the officials were also very good.
      We celebrated a great evening in the bar after and what an evening it had been.
      Great, friendly people who were proud of 'their club' and quite rightly so , if only all clubs were like this.In fact it was kind of sad to say farewell. Had i any regrets about my visit here tonight .. yes i had 2 regrets , leaving these wonderful people and not being able to appreciate the surrounding landscape and yes i will be back and this ground comes very highly recommended in every way , and for fellow ground hoppers this is a 'must tick'.

      You will be assured of a very warm welcome  and plenty of goals .. but make sure you see them all , unlike me !

      More pics of New Mills ground (18)


      Saturday 13th November 2010

      Northen Premier League North Division
      Clitheroe 0 v Curzon Ashton 3
      Gate : £7  
      Atten: 235
      Food: Delicious Steak & Kidney Pie with Peas and Gravy £2 , worth the wait  8/10
      Ground: Cracking ground, full of charm from yesteryear surrounded by fantastic views and a Castle 10/10
      Match Enjoyment: Excellent match by two fully committed teams 8/10

      Pics from Clitheroe's ground (70).

      Cracking day at a cracking ground and is a "must tick"  .......

      This is a cracker of a ground and gritty northern ground full of charm - simply outstanding.


      Tuesday 9th November  -

      Northern Premier League - North Division
      Burscough 0 v Colwyn Bay 0
      Gate : £8
      Atten: 146
      Food: Delicious Peppered Steak Pie with Peas and Gravy , yummy 8/10
      Ground: 8/10 I liked this ground very much lots of charm - best to go for a day match
      Match Enjoyment: Awful game , worst of the season so far 1/10

      Pics of Burscough's Ground (38)


      Monday 8th Novemeber - Conf North
      Droylsden 2 v AFC Telford 4
      Entrance : £10
      Gate: 391
      Ground: Cracking little ground 8/10
      Food /Drink: Pie and Chips £3 - 2nd worst pie of this season 2/10
      Conditions: Cold windy and wet 
      Match Enjoyment: 7/10 Telford were impressive tonight. Droylsden awful first half but a bit better second half

      View all Photos from Butchers Arms (25)


      Sunday 7th November
      FA Cup 1st Round
      Southport 2 v Sheffield Wednesday 5
      Gate: £14 Seat in Main Stand
      Attend: 4490
      Ground : great old ground which had seen better days , the main stand is excellent
      Food & Drink: Only had a Coffee £1
      Match Enjoyment: 8/10 great atmosphere in true FA Cup tradition - lots of goals !

      Pics from Southport's ground (27).


      Saturday 6th November - Vodkat Challenge Cup Round 2
      Padiham 1 v Formby 2
      Attendance:106  Admission: £5
      Ground :  Great little ground amongst lovely scenery
      Food/Drink: Padiham Pie, Peas and Gravy £2
      Match Enjoyment : 4/10
      Conditions :Perfect Autumn Conditions & Sunny

      Photo's of Padiham's Ground (40)


      Saturday 25th Sept -

      Northern Premier League North Division
      Chorley 5 v Durham 0
      Attendance: 824  
      Admission: £7
      Ground : 9/10 Typical gritty northern venue, reeking of history of bygone years with 3 very old big stands, fantastic !
      Food/Drink: Tasty Chip Bap £1.50 Coffee £1

      Conditions :Perfect Conditions & Sunny

      Pics from Chorley's ground (48)

      Bacup Borough

      Wednesday 22nd Sept - FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round Replay 
      Bacup Borough 3 v Padiham 1 (After Extra Time)
      Attendance: 80  Admission: £6
      Ground :  Old scenic ground set amongst the Lancashire Penine countryside - a must tick ! 10/10
      Food/Drink: Delicious home made Pie and i had seconds and was even tempted for thirds !! (secret recipe they told me !) Peas and Gravy £2 10/10
      Conditions :Wet, slippery and rain storms

      View all Pics from Bacup (27)

      A visit to Bacup had long been on my 'must tick' list and reading fellow hopper 'Where's the Tea Hut' report it moved up into my top three on grounds i must visit at the earliest opportunity if anything to get it out of my system. It was a ground that intrigued me because every time i mentioned it to someone they just smiled as if to say "are you mad".The more people who said that the more i wanted to visit this Lancashire Town.
      It was also a "Black Pudding Derby"match and also FA Vase Replay ... who could resist that !.
      As i drove to the ground it started to rain very hard and in my mind i kept hearing the advice i had been given before "if it rains , call them up !" , the problem was i was only 7 miles away so had no intentions of turning back and going to Glossop the only other game on tonight. On my arrival i was welcomed by a 5 year old boy with a thick Lancashire accent - he was the first one at the ground. A few minutes later the ground was unlocked. After walking round the ground i was desperate to take my photos before dark.
      My fav pic of Bacup's Ground

      My walk around confirmed what a gem of a ground this was but it was obvious it had witnessed better times. I later learnt the team manager did nearly everything including all the handy work  and the keeping the pitch in order. I was made very welcome by committee members , all very proud of their little club. Even the 5 year old i met on arrival was proud of 'his' team.
      I loved the rickety old stands set with a beautiful backdrop of the Lancashire countryside - peaceful in every way. After taking my photos i spoke with the locals who encouraged me to try their "award winning pie" which can be obtained in the beautifully named "Martin Peters Bar" - no not him of '66 ! but the son of the manager !! The bar from the outside looked  not so good and uninviting but once inside was spacious and vibrant with the walls full of history from years gone by.

      Inside the Martin Peters Bar

      The Homemade Pie and Peas was delicious, the best so far this season, you could tell it was homemade, when i asked whats inside the reply came "its a secret"  - so much was it good i went back for seconds !

      The game was only taking place due to a 93rd minute equaliser for Padiham on saturday, according to the Bacup supporters was unfair.
      The game started in light rain and as early as the 2nd minute i saw the miss (or double miss of the season). The Bacup forward went round the goalie had and open goal and hit the bar ! it rebounded back to him , still with an open goal he second shot hit the post !!! and rebounded to a Padiham player. Bacup scored a 28th minute penalty and then a minute late the Bacup bench was barking out oders to their left back - he told them to f*** off and said "if you can find someone better do so"  - less than 30 seconds later he was substituted and whilst coming off took off his shirt and threw it to the ground in disgust ... " and don't bother turning up for training next week" came the reply from the bench as he went down the tunnel. It was so funny !
      Bacup left back being subbed vid

      The rest of the match was uneventful until the 96th Minute , Padiham had been pressing for the last 5 minutes and then they had a corner , the goalie went up and seconds later in the pouring rain he toe poked an equaliser through a crowded box to send the game into extra time - and unwanted extra time to be honest, it was wet, dark, late, cold, and long journey ahead  AND THEN ..... i could hear screams of delight from behind me , it was only the 5 year old boy celebrating - tow questions entered my head , why was he celebrating an opponents goal and more importantly why wasn't he tucked up in bed ?  he reliably informed me his bed time was 10pm and no earlier ! i was firmly put in my place.
      Extra time was completed in the pouring rain and Bacup scored 2 goals to end up 3-1 winners.
      My adventure in Bacup had come to an end , and what an enjoyable adventure it had been.
      But rest assured i will be back ! this was a gritty northen ground full of charm in every way - quite simply outstanding !

      Altrincham FC

      Tuesday 21st Sept - Conf Premier
      Altrincham 2 v Barrow 0
      Attendance: 1042  Admission: £13
      Ground :  Good old ground with lots of history
      Food/Drink: Has a really good fish and chips near the ground before the game £3.80 Coffee £1.20p
      Total Mileage: 20
      Conditions :Perfect conditions.

      Pics From Altrincham's ground (17)

      Ashton United

      Monday 20th Sept - Evo Stick Premier
      Ashton United 1 v Marine 0
      Attendance: 177  Admission: £8
      Ground :  Good old ground with lots of history, set amongst the backstreets of East Manchester
      Food/Drink: Good Meat Pie with chips and gravy £2.80 Coffee 80p
      Total Mileage: 41
      Conditions : Autumn chill , few spots of rain.

      Pics from Ashton Utd (30)