The Silverlands

Ground No. 196
Visited - Saturday 10th October 2009
Result - Buxton 2-2 Bradford Park Avenue
Competition - FA Cup, 3rd Qualifying Round
Attendance - 533

When you think of Buxton, the first thought that will come to most peoples minds is of course water. The springs here are famous and have made the town a popular holiday destination since Roman times with their reputed healing powers. In modern times though, it was the late 18th century when the Derbyshire settlement really took off, with much of the town’s main architecture dating from that period, modelled on the city of Bath in Somerset. Situated on the edge of the Peak District, it’s the highest market town in England, and consequently, the Silverlands, home to Buxton FC is also claimed to be the highest ground in the country at 997 feet above sea level. Most would associate this claim with West Bromwich Albion and the Hawthorns, but at a mere 551 feet it is eclipsed by some way (for those interested, Tow Law’s Ironworks Road Ground stands the second tallest at 941ft). Buxton were formed in the same year that Wolves were in 1877, but unlike the men from Molineux, have spent all of their life in non-league circles, most of the last 40 years in the Northern Premier League, regaining Premier Division status in 2007 after winning the Division One title and NCEL Premier in successive seasons after a slump during the late 90s. Like Wolves, their arguably most successful period was in the 1950s, when the club twice reached the second round of the FA Cup, going one stage further in 1952 only to be defeated 2-0 by Doncaster. There had only been one more first round appearance after those two runs, in 1963, when they lost to then league side Barrow in a replay, but thoughts of reaching the competition proper were high on the agenda again as they were paired with Bradford Park Avenue in this seasons 3rd qualifying round. The game looked to be one of the better ties of the round, so not having visited the ground before, and with not a lot else on, then I circled it as the match to go to.

Whilst part of Derbyshire, the town lies the other side of the Peak District to Derby itself, and probably has more connections with nearby Manchester than the county town. It was here I headed towards first, changing trains in Stockport before catching a local service to Buxton, the picturesque views in the latter stage of the journey helping the somewhat cumbersome journey pass by quicker. After arriving I made my way to Poole’s Cavern near the edge of town for a bit of a pre-match schedule with a difference, taking a tour of the limestone caves before heading back to town to look round. It’s certainly deserving of its reputation, and even on a typical autumn day with bursts of rain was still a charming place to walk around with some beautiful Georgian architecture and surrounding views. The town centre itself is split into a higher and lower part (much like Bridgnorth in Shropshire), with a public park in between. It’s the high part of the town where the ground is situated, fairly centrally, so after a hike up the hill and past St Ann’s Well, then I found it at the end of the road which it shares its name with.  

From the outside, there is little to see, but the ground opens up after going in. The main facilities including clubhouse and club shop are located in the near corner next to the turnstiles, whilst along the near side is the Main Stand. Sitting on the halfway line, it is raised from pitch level and dates back to 1965. The seats are quite unusual, in that they are modern plastic tip-up ones (originally from Maine Road), but behind them are wooden backrests, perhaps part of benches prior to them being fitted? The far end of the ground is a large expanse of sloping tarmac, whilst the Popular Side opposite is a small terrace running the length of the pitch and overshooting at the far end. Completing the picture, at the near end is a good sized terrace sitting centrally behind the goal, with a low roof which helped both sets of fans create some noise during the game. 

The two teams had already met earlier in the season, with a 1-1 draw being played out whilst only two points separated them in the table, so a tight game was expected. Buxton kicked off, and almost straight away they sent a warning to the visitors, with Scott Maxfield going close in just the fourth minute after some good football, but Bradford, playing in a ghastly luminous yellow strip, were equal to the task and after an end-to-end game with some genuinely good quality play from both sides, they managed to take the lead courtesy of a penalty. Rob O’Brien burst into the box, only to be fouled by Christian Millar and with few protests from the home side, Aiden Savory converted the spot kick to make it 1-0 at the break. In the second half Avenue started the brightest, and cheered on by a good following they increased the lead in the 57th minute thanks to Savory getting his second of the game. That looked to be it with the visitors in control, but they say you’re supposedly most vulnerable to conceding right after scoring and this rang true when some sloppy defending by Bradford let Kieran Lugsden get on the end of a long ball to pull a goal back for Buxton. Despite this setback, the visitors still looked the strongest, but they were caught out again in the 75th minute when Lugsden got his second goal, firing home from a corner to make things level, but it looked like Bradford might have won it at the death when Aiden Savory, unmarked, got on the end of a cross only to glance his header wide of the post whilst Buxton fans and players alike stood hearts in mouth, seeing their dreams of cup glory fade in front of them, but wasn’t to be though, and with the header going harmlessly out for a goal-kick, then the few remaining minutes were played out before the ref blew the final whistle.

After leaving, I made my way home glad to have come to what had been both a fairly good game and a nice town to visit. The ground reminded in many ways of Gainsborough, but like the Northolme, I found myself struggling to like it quite as much as I thought I should have. It certainly has character and well suits the clubs needs, but it does feel like it’s missing something, what, I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but even despite this, then it’s a ground worth visiting.

Incidentally, Buxton won the replay 1-0 before going out to Stourbridge in the next round.

Welcome to the Silverlands

Rear of the Main Stand

The Clubhouse

The Club Shop

The Main Stand
Seating in the Main Stand

The Near End

The Far Side

The Far End

The Main Stand

The Near End

The Silverlands Panoramic 1

The Silverlands Panoramic 2


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