Belper Town
Christchurch Meadow

Ground No. 161
Visited - Monday 25th August 2008
Result - Belper Town 2-0 Grantham Town
Competition - NPL Division 1 South
Attendance - 242

Mr Potato Head: A popular children’s toy, an informal term for Steve Bruce and a gift from their twin city Pawtucket (USA) refused by the residents of Belper on the basis that it was “too ugly!” Walking around the town, you can tend to see why. The classic Peak District location makes for a pleasant place to head for on a Bank Holiday Monday, not to mention that local side Belper Town were scheduled to be at home against Grantham in an NPL Division 1 South fixture! I’d wanted to visit Christchurch Meadow for some time, with pictures showing it to be quite a picturesque setting, so with no other games standing out, then this seemed the perfect occasion.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, I managed to get a cheap train ticket to Derby (only £2.95 single), so was in a good mood when setting off, arriving there on time before catching a bus to Belper itself, getting there just after 1pm.

Originally the towns name was ‘Beaurepaire’, French for Beautiful Retreat, which once there you can understand (and begin to realise why the 7ft plastic Mr Potato Head statue was deemed unsuitable!). Set into the rolling countryside then it’s the sort of place that most would love to retire to, but enough of the travel guide. After having wandered around for a bit and grabbed a bite to eat, I made my way down towards the ground, which is situated just north of the town centre on the A6 road towards Matlock.

From the outside, then you really can’t see all that much as it is reached by a narrow passageway in between the church from which it takes its name and another building, but after walking down here and in through the turnstiles then it opens out a bit more.

I had been warned prior to coming that despite the location, it might not live up to what I was hoping for, and after going in, then perhaps that was the impression I got. The ground is dominated by its surroundings, with the church standing over one end, and the giant East Mill to the North of it. Of the actual stands, then there is a modern structure on the far side, which provides 500 seats with an uninterrupted view, and a small covered bit of terracing in the near corner adjacent to the turnstiles whilst there is also a few small steps of uncovered terracing behind the near goal. Most of the near side and far end are hard standing, with an expanse of grass behind the far goal used as a car park by fans. Having had a look around, then I headed for the clubhouse, which was situated behind the Main Stand, and grabbed a nice pint of jug poured Pedigree, before it was eventually time for the game to start.

Both sides had had mixed starts to the season, and the first half was testament to that, neither really looking capable of breaking the deadlock. Grantham had the first opportunity to do so after 15 minutes, when their number 9, Sean Cann dribbled his way through the home defence, but when looking certain to score he managed to drag his shot wide. The visitors were nearly made to pay for that 10 minutes later after the hosts drove forward only for Lee Stevenson to see his shot hit the outside of the post and cleared. Despite these couple of chances, the game was turning into a real borefest, one of the more forgettable ones of this season alone (a season still young enough for the number of games I’ve seen to be in single figures!), but the home side managed to get a break just before half time when Ben Walker nodded home a cross from the right to make it 1-0 in first half injury time.

The second half was much the same. Grantham were doing most of the pushing, but still not really threatening the home goal, and their reasonable number of fans situated behind the near goal were left cursing the referee at the end of the game, following a controversial last few minutes.  It had started in the 88th minute when they had a penalty shout denied after Jason Turner went down in the box from a challenge by Belper defender Michael Harcourt, and their frustration was compounded when the home side raced down the other end and sealed all three points with a second goal, courtesy of Lee Stevenson who had an easy tap in to make it 2-0.

After leaving, I made my way back into town and eventually on to Derby and home with little incident, having enjoyed the trip out. 

Overall, the ground might not have been quite what I was hoping for, but it isn’t the worst place in the world to visit. The Main Stand is what you would describe as functional more than anything, and if it’s character you’re after, then you’ll probably catch yourself looking more at the surrounding scenery than the actual inside, but the club have obviously worked hard to create some good facilities here, with a particularly smart clubhouse, and if perhaps they can utilise some of the free space on the near side or at the far end of the ground, then there is certainly potential for a good ground to be built.

Welcome to Belper Town

The Turnstiles

North Side Terrace

The Near End Terrace

The Clubhouse

The Main Stand

Welcome to Christchurch Meadow (again!)

Ready for Kick Off

The Main Stand

The Far End

The North Side

The Near End

Christchurch Meadow Panoramic


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