Arnold Town
Sandy Lane

Ground No. 172
Visited - Saturday 3rd January 2009
Result - Arnold Town 1-0 Eccleshill United
Competition - NCEL Premier Division
Attendance - 44

When Worksop Town's groundsman turned up one summers morning to start the preparation for a new season, he had a bit of a surprise to find that the ground was all locked up and access denied! It was the start of a bitter episode in the clubs history that is still ongoing, with the club having been evicted from their Sandy Lane ground with no prior notice or explanation as to why. Forced to play their home games at Hucknall, then their future remains unclear with the board seeming to prefer to search for a ground that they own themselves, instead of returning to their previous home and risking a similar event further down the line.

Despite the absence of WTFC, Sandy Lane itself hasn't lain idle, instead it's now regularly hired out to Sunday League teams, something that nomadic Arnold Town were able to take advantage of when their usual residences were all booked up for the visit of Eccleshill United. Having left their own Gedling Road ground last season, then their new Eagle Valley Stadium has been blighted by delays to building, so there was the bizzare situation that whilst Worksop were being forced to play their home game against FCUM 20 miles away, Arnold were able to take advantage and use their ground for the day.

It had caused a bit of controversy amongst Worksop fans, some threatening to disrupt the game, but thankfully that turned out to be an idle threat, and having never had the chance to visit Sandy Lane for a Worksop game, then I jumped at the chance to visit.

Probably most known for Tony Robinson's Maid Marian, Worksop is also the birthplace of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson. I'd hoped to be able to get there early on to have a look around, but a late start left me getting the last train possible there, arriving just after 2pm after changes in Birmingham and Sheffield. Quickly darting into town, then there seems to be few, if any points of interest to commemorate these two legends, so having had a brief look around, I made my way up to the ground, arriving just in time for the players to be waiting to come out.

From the outside, then the signage still points to it being the home of Worksop, with their gold and black colours still present throughout. Once inside though, there have been some changes, most notably straight after going through the turnstiles where you come out at the near end. For some reason, the owners have seen it suitable to remove the pitch wall making it unsuitable for NPL football, (and NCEL I’d thought), but otherwise it is largely the same as when the Tigers were still in residence. The near end is largely hard standing, with the club house in the corner, and a small covered terrace situated behind the goal. The far side is open terracing, a few rows high whilst the far end is all seated, although a little strange in that it appears to be of the temporary kind, perhaps fitted where an old terrace once was? The Main Stand sits in the centre of the near side and is quite imposing. Whilst it only has four rows, it has a high roof due to the two storey press boxes that sit either side of the seating. At both ends beyond these are two sections of again, temporary looking seating, covered like the far end, providing unrestricted views.

Having taken a few pictures and found a seat, then it was eventually time for senior football to resume at Sandy Lane. Arnold and Eccleshill were sitting at opposite ends of the table, the hosts fourth from top, the visitors, propping it up. Despite this though, there really didn’t seem to be much difference between the two, with both sides largely cancelling each other out in a first half with few chances. The second half was no better, and it was turning into quite a poor game, with the only thing of note being the players getting quite agitated towards the officials, despite few debatable decisions being made in the eye of this neutral. In the 81st minute, Arnold managed to force a corner, predictably to the protestations of the visitors from Yorkshire, and they were made even angrier when it was converted thanks to the much travelled Martin Carruthers (of Stoke fame), who headed home. As the clock ran down the only surprise was that it turned out to be the solitary goal of the game, Arnold unable to add to their total against an Eccleshill defence who looked nowhere near as bad as their record of 87 conceded in the previous 19 games suggested.

With the game eventually drawing to a close, I made my way home without any troubles, glad to have made the journey. Arnold’s new Eagle Valley Stadium is still being built, and at the point of writing is apparently only weeks from completion, so a third visit to see them may be made soon, however it was good to have got the opportunity to see competitive football at Sandy Lane. The ground is surprisingly modern, having been opened in 1992, but giving the impression of dating back further than that. What will happen in the future is anyone’s guess at the moment, it will certainly be a shame if Worksop aren’t able to return there, so hopefully one day I’ll get the chance to re-visit and see the Tigers in action where they belong, instead of 20 miles away in exile.

Old Signs for Worksop still up

Entrance to the Ground

The Turnstiles

Looking across the Near End

The Near End Terrace

The Near Side

The Far End

The Far End

The Main Stand

Ready for Kick Off

The Clubhouse

The Main Stand

Sandy Lane Panoramic


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