The Home Guard Club

Ground No. 204
Visited - Saturday 2nd January 2010
Result - Alveston 5-1 Archdale '73
Competition - Midland Combination, Division One
Attendance - 52 (h/c)

“Don’t Panic! Don’t Panic! There is a game on”

Slightly cheesy opening to a review of the Home Guard Club ground, but no apologies! With the year only two days old, then I was already planning my second game of 2010, however it was a different part of Warwickshire that I’d been hoping to get to, some 25 miles northwards in Bedworth. Their game with Atherstone had been due to be played 24 hours previously, but that was postponed due to snow, meaning I’d ended up opening the new decade seeing TNS take on Welshpool, but with the weather improving the club had hoped to get it on without needing to rearrange for a night game. Jack Frost however had his own ideas, and perhaps predictably, come the Saturday morning the game was postponed for a second time. Far from the weather getting better, if anything it had seemed to get worse, with game after game falling victim, but apparently the only part of the country to escape the snow had been sunny Stratford, where there was barely even a chill in the air, meaning both Stratford Town and Alveston confirmed that their games would definitely be on. Having already visited Knights Lane last season, the choice of game was fairly easy and so slightly later than I would have liked, I set off just after midday, not really knowing what to expect other than merely how to get there.

Situated in a small village just outside of Stratford, Alveston were formed in 1927, however they weren’t the first team to bear the name. Alveston United had started life playing on the village green in 1912, but they had been forced to disband in 1925 due to a lack of players. Two years later though the club were reformed again, this time playing in the shadow of the famous Shakespeare Theatre on the banks of the River Avon. It was their home for nearly 50 years until 1975 when they moved to the Home Guard Club in Tiddington, where a new sports ground had been added to the existing facilities. Up until this point they had spent their life in local leagues, and continued to do so until 1993 when they stepped up to join the Midland Combination. Starting in Division 3, their rise was meteoric, winning three promotions in their first five years. They were crowned Premier Division champions in 1999, in their first season at that level, but with the ground not up to scratch, promotion beyond that to the MFA was never a possibility, and in the following years since they’ve slipped back down into Division One, albeit challenging for promotion once more during the first half of 2009/10.

The journey down to Tiddington had gone fairly well given that the time was getting on. The train to Stratford had been early arriving, and from there a short walk into town and a bus journey I found the ground with ease, passing Stratford Town’s Knights Lane on the way, which I was surprised to see was barely 10 minutes walk away (surprised as in having never known the Home Guard Club ground was there when I visited (otherwise I’d have gone to have a look long before!)). The grounds are even visible from each other, albeit only by the floodlights.  

Set on the main road, the changing rooms and social club itself are a distance away from the ground, which is situated on the other side of several pitches. It has its own separate entrance, and a half derelict outbuilding which serves as a gateway to the stadium itself. The pitch is in the middle of a tarmac oval track, which had me wondering about its use all afternoon. Having seen better days, then I’d wondered if it had ever hosted speedway perhaps, but talking to the groundsman later on then apparently the ground had originally been built with the intention of putting an athletics track down. As is often the case though, funds ran short and the surface was never built after the council opened their own facilities elsewhere in Stratford. Fans now use it as hard standing, with the pitch raised and railed off in the middle. The only shelter is on the far side where a small stand sits running about half the length of the pitch on the opposite side of the track. There’s a single row of seats in a shade of claret that makes you suspect that they might once have seen action at Villa Park. The home clubs claret and blue strip lends weight to the theory. 

The visitors for the day were Archdale ’73 and not just lucky to have a game on at all, those in attendance (of which there seemed to be fewer groundhoppers than might have been expected given the scale of postponements elsewhere) had been treated to no less than a top of the table clash with Archdale sitting five points ahead of Alveston in first place. Despite this though, you could have been forgiven for thinking otherwise when the hosts took the lead in the fourth minute, their number 9 running onto a ball into the box and firing home. They made it 2-0 just after the quarter hour mark, but despite this setback, the visitors started to get back into it and the half ended fairly evenly with both sides looking to play some good passing football.

With the conclusion of the first 45 minutes proving to be quite close, then a good second half seemed to lie ahead, but Alveston's third coming just two minutes after the restart killed the game when their number 6 drilled home from a good 25-30 yards out. He grabbed a second three minutes later, tapping home after some good work down the right to get into the box from their number 10. Archdale just couldn't get into it after this, and a fifth was added by Alveston's number 10 who hit a good one-two, before poking home the reply past the oncoming goalkeeper. The visitors did grab a consolation in the 72nd minute after the home goalie couldn't hold onto a long shot, but they weren't going to get back into it at that point, despite forcing a goal line clearance shortly afterwards, so Alveston ran out deserving winners, cutting the gap to two points with a game in hand.

After the game, then I walked back to town with no problems before coming home, glad to have come. The ground is ‘rustic’ so to speak, but an interesting place to watch a match from, and my only main gripe had been that there were no programmes. Not that I’d particularly expected there to be any at a Step 7 game, but for a club who claim on their website to be forward looking, then it was a bit disappointing on asking only to be told that there were none produced all season “because they don’t have to at this level”. Stupid boy.

Welcome to the Home Guard Club

The Social Club

Entrance to the Ground

The Near End

The Far Side

The Main Stand

The Near End

The Near Side

Ready for Kick Off

"On your marks..."

The Floodlights from Stratford Town's Knights Lane
Put those lights out...!!!

The Home Guard Club Panoramic

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