Atherstone Town
Sheepy Road

Ground No. 164
Visited - Saturday 11th October 2008
Result - Atherstone Town 1-1 Chipstead
Competition - FA Cup, 3rd Qualifying Round
Attendance - 449

Founded in 2004, on the face of it Atherstone are a relatively new club, however they can trace their roots back much further than that, and the signs of this are evident at their Sheepy Road ground, which clearly dates back beyond the new millennium, having been largely built by the original Atherstone Town who folded in 1978. They were succeeded by Atherstone United, who in turn went bust in 2003, however this version of the club seem to be having more success, and having seen their first game in the Midland Alliance a few seasons back, then I’d been wanting to get over to the Warwickshire town ever since, finally deciding to make the effort for their FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round tie with Chipstead who had travelled up all the way from Surrey.

Setting off mid morning, the journey went fairly well, changing trains in Birmingham and Nuneaton, before a minibus trip completed it, arriving just before 1pm. The town itself, whilst small, is very pleasant with a fantastic little market square that, except for the shop fronts, claims not to have changed since the 18th century. It’s also famous for the Shrove Tuesday game of football along the main shopping street which has been played for some 800 years and probably more resembles Rugby than the version of the game we’ve become more accustomed to. One final thing to note is how many pubs there seems to be in the town, with no shortage of options for a drink, one seemingly every few yards! After settling on the Three Tuns to grab a pint and watch the second half of MK Dons vs Carlisle, then I eventually made my way up to the ground. 

Set just off the road that bares its name, then from the outside there really isn’t a great deal to see, but once in then the ground really opens up. The main turnstiles are situated in the same corner where the clubshop also sits, whilst the near end features a small few steps of terracing and a mini-pitch for kids to play on behind that. The changing rooms sit on the far side of the pitch, with the Main (Andy Rammell) Stand running for most the length of the pitch, with seating in the centre, and covered hard standing either side that slightly slopes upwards to give a better view. The far (Gypsy Lane) end is another few steps of terracing, and that wraps around the corner and runs back up towards the turnstiles along the near side which is uncovered for the most part, except the centre where a small shelter has been built.

After taking a few pictures and meeting another fellow groundhopper, then it was off to the clubhouse for a quick drink before the game got underway. From the off, it seemed to be quite even and the visitors capitalised on the high tempo, scoring in the 13th minute when Danny Oakins got himself on the end of a cross and knocked the ball home past the helpless goalkeeper. With that, Chipstead seemed content to sit on the lead, and the rest of the first half was played out with little goalmouth action, although the players seemed to be really laying into each other in a game that was increasingly threatening to spill over. The second half was largely dictated by the home side, but try as they might there didn’t seem to be any breakthrough, with them not really being able to create many chances to worry the visiting defence. Things seemed to take a turn for the worse for the Adders late on when defender Jake Woolaston was carried off on a stretcher, reducing the home side to ten men, having already used up all their subs. Despite this setback though, they got the break they deserved and in the 83rd minute number seven, Ashley Wells was played into space on the right and managed to keep ahead of the defence to go into the box and lash the ball home. This stirred Chipstead into action and they had several chances to grab a winner, including a spectacular overhead kick, but it eventually finished 1-1 to go to a replay (which Chipstead went on to win 3-0).

After leaving, then I made my way back home, getting back with no problems, glad to have made the trip.

Overall, the ground is a bit of a classic, with there being no modern structures here at all, however it has been taken care of, and other than a few unpainted chipboards dotted around, it does look quite an attractive venue. One good thing to note as well, was whilst in the town earlier, it was nice to see that unlike some, the club do seem to have a bit of a local presence, with posters dotted around various shops, and a shirt on the wall of the pub I was in. These efforts paid off, with a big crowd having turned up, 449 in all, which didn’t seem to have many from Chipstead swelling the numbers, so with a good backing and a good ground then it seems like this latest 2004 version of the club has a promising future ahead of them, and the ground is well worth a visit.

Welcome to Atherstone Town

The Turnstiles

The Club Shop

Rear of the Andy Rammell Stand

The Clubhouse

The Near End

The Andy Rammell Stand

The Sheepy Road Stand

Ready for Kick Off

The Near End

The Sheepy Road side

The Gypsy Lane End

Sheepy Road Panoramic


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