Barrow Raiders
Craven Park

Ground No. 12
Visited - Saturday 2nd August 2008
Result - Barrow Raiders 22-30 Gateshead Thunder
Competition - The Co-Operative National League Two
Attendance - 1744

I’d first ‘discovered’ Craven Park a few years back when trying to find an aerial view of nearby Holker Street, initially mistaking the ground for the former Football League venue which sits half a mile further down the road from Barrow town centre, so was eager to visit there, and when the chance to see a game at both of the stadiums on the same day came up, then I grabbed it with both hands!

Barrow (AFC) had been at home to Accrington Stanley, beating their opponents by 2-1, so the mood in the town was good, as I headed off towards the ground, grabbing some food on the way at the retail park opposite.

From the outside, the ground is quite hemmed in, with not too much to see but after going in it really opens out. Coming in through the main turnstiles you are at the corner where the main facilities are located, including the club shop and a new modern office block. The Grandstand is along this side, sitting in the centre with terracing flanking it either side. The stand itself features the only seating in the ground, raised from pitch level with executive boxes to the rear. Some good sized terracing runs around the other three sides of the pitch (including corners), with low roofs behind both posts, and an interesting roof along the side of the pitch covering the rear of the Clive Street Terrace. Largely dating back to 1931, the ground is an absolute classic although the newer Grandstand complements its older neighbours without looking out of place.

After taking some pictures, it was time for the game to start. Both teams had had a good season, with Barrow sitting just three points behind Gateshead who were top of the league with four games left to play, so it had been billed as a big clash, potentially the title decider. With this in mind, and a boisterous home crowd behind them, Barrow raced into an early 4-0 lead thanks to Mike Backhouse who went over in just the third minute. The conversion was added, but things soon turned worse when from the kick-off, hesitancy at the back resulted in Gateshead storming up the field, winning possession whilst Barrow dithered and going straight over to bring the game back to 6-4. The following half hour was very topsy-turvy, the home side scoring next, and extending their lead to 14-4 before Gateshead came back, scoring three tries to take a 22-14 lead into the break.  On the restart, the hosts really needed to get back into a game they couldn’t afford to lose, and early on things looked like they were turning up when they scored on the last tackle, but it was back to stupid mistakes, letting the resulting kick bounce for a quick thinking Gateshead side to pick it up and repeat the trick from the first half before adding the two to make it 28-22. With the score delicately balanced the rest of the half was tight, neither side wanting to give any ground with Andy Ellis notably held up underneath the posts before a late Daniel Russell penalty sealed the win for Gateshead, increasing the gap at the top to five points.

After leaving, then I made my way back to the hotel for the night, having enjoyed the game, just being a little sad for the home side who had given it their all in a thrilling match, before coming home the next day.

Overall, it had been a really good trip. Both Barrow grounds are great to visit, although for me it’s Craven Park that stands out as the better of the two with a more traditional feel to it than the surprisingly modern Holker Street. Both teams are looking to move at some point in the future, so if talks ever come to fruition, then this ground in particular should be near the top of anyone’s must visit list and on a personal level, I certainly hope to be back there one day. 

Welcome to Craven Park

Rear of the Grandstand

Rear of the Hindpool Road Terrace


Rear of the Clive Street Terrace

Rear of the Willie Horne Way Terrace

The Grandstand

The Hindpool Road Terrace

The Clive Street Terrace

The Willie Horne Way Terrace

The Clive Street Terrace

The Grandstand

The Game Kicks Off

Craven Park Panoramic


1 comment:

  1. What a dump. They seriously need to replace those decripted stands.