Banbury United
The Spencer Stadium

Ground No. 142
Visited - Tuesday 27th November 2007
Result - Banbury United 0-2 King's Lynn
Competition - Southern League Premier Division
Attendance - 242

Having visited the Spencer Stadium back in October 2005 on my way down to a game at Wycombe, then I was quite familiar with the ground, yet determined to get back and actually see a match there. There were rumours that Banbury were considering relocating, especially after the floods of 2007 had badly effected the ground, with the nearby River Cherwell breaking its banks in spectacular fashion (see here), but for the short term at least, then the future of the ground seemed safe, from development anyway.

With the train routes between Banbury and the West Midlands being fairly regular, then I’d decided to go for a night game as opposed a Saturday match, leaving the weekends for somewhere more difficult to get to, so with ‘The Puritans’ at home to King's Lynn on a Tuesday, then that was to be the game.
As expected, the journey was fairly straight forward, other than having to go through Birmingham New St in the rush hour (nightmare), but I arrived into Banbury at about 7pm, and headed off on the short walk to the ground, which is conveniently located just five minutes away, with a quick walk through the station car park and down a track that leads around the back of an industrial estate where the ground sits behind.

Opened in 1934 and named after the clubs original name of Spencer Villa, then there isn’t much to see from the outside other than the car park and rear of the clubhouse, but after going in, then the ground does open up a lot more. Most of the facilities are located along the near side with the clubhouse sitting at one end, the dressing rooms in the middle and a covered stand providing 250 seats at the near end, which had been renamed the John Nicholls Stand since my original visit. To the right is the Town End, which is a small strip of terracing 12 rows high, and partly covered to the rear by a precarious looking shelter that was blown away at one point during the 2007 storms, but reassembled to provide the only other shelter at the ground. The terracing runs around the far corner, nearly to the halfway line where the rest of the far side is hard standing, looking quite barren these days with nothing having replaced the old wooden Main Stand which was closed after the Bradford fire in 1985, and eventually removed in 1990 following persistent vandalism. Finally, at the far end is the Country End, another small strip of terracing, this time uncovered, although with tall trees behind, then it does provide some sort of shelter from winds, and looks more characteristic than a breezeblock wall or high panelled fence might make it otherwise.

After buying a programme and grabbing a pint in the club house, I eventually found a seat in time for the match to start. King's Lynn were going well in the league, sitting just 2 points off top place with 3 games in hand, and followed by a noisy group of supporters they started the game brightly, before eventually taking a deserved lead through Jack Defty, who headed home in the 22nd minute to make it 1-0. They dominated the rest of the half, with Banbury never really offering much threat to the visitors, and were unlucky not to go into the break with a bigger lead.

After half-time, a heavy pitch started to take its toll on the players, and the match became a bit of a non-event with Banbury enjoying more possession than in the first period, but never realistically looking like getting an equaliser, and King's Lynn wrapped it up with just three minutes left when Joe Francis, who had crossed for the first goal made it 2-0 after cutting inside and smashing the ball home with what looked partly like a cross. 

After the final whistle, I didn’t hang around, making my way back to the station and quickly onto a train homewards again, arriving back just before midnight.

Overall, it was good to go to the ground again and especially to see a game this time, even if the game itself wasn’t great! The ground is an interesting place with plenty of character, it is let down a little bit by the gaping hole where the old Main Stand used to be, but on the whole it is a good venue, and well worth visiting. To read a more thorough history of the ground, and see some pictures of the old Main Stand, then this unofficial site is well worth a read.

Welcome to Banbury United

The Clubhouse

The Country End

Looking across the Country End

The Far Side

Terracing on the Far Side

The Town End

The Town End

The John Nicholls Stand

Ready for Kick Off

The Near Side

The John Nicholls Stand

The Town End


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