Kidsgrove Athletic
The Seddon Stadium

Ground No. 167
Visited - Saturday 25th October 2008
Result - Kidsgrove Athletic 2-5 Glapwell
Competition - Northern Premier League, Division 1 South
Attendance - 122

Kidsgrove are a strange club it has to be said. Founded in 1952 then their rise up the leagues has only been recent, and partly opportunistic as it started with a promotion on the basis of being the highest placed team with a good enough ground, despite having only finished 10th in the NWCL Division 2 at the time! Since then though they have made it up to step 4 through their own hard work and into the NPL Division 1 South, where they currently reside. Now the reason I say strange isn’t because of some League of Gentleman-esque characters around the club, but more because of the complete lack of coverage that they seem to receive on non-league websites, with no mentions or pictures of the ground, or seemingly any supporters doing the rounds on the forums. It’s an odd situation for a club who have a good average attendance, and a well developed ground, so it made a visit there intriguing, with the fixture against Glapwell chosen on the morning of the game.

Just north of Stoke, then it’s easy to reach from Wolverhampton. I didn’t need to set out until gone midday, although still nearly managed to miss the train, but after a quick change in Stoke then I arrived in Kidsgrove in good time, the journey having taken less than an hour. Unfortunately, once there I realised that despite briefly looking at a map, being the idiot I am, it hadn’t occurred to me to actually write the directions down! Going from the briefest of memories, then by mostly sheer coincidence I managed to guess the right way and was going well until coming across a sign pointing ‘Kidsgrove Athletic FC’ straight on. 20 minutes up the road and still no sign of the ground then I realised that someone must have decided it would be great fun to point it in the wrong way, joy. Thankfully the shop assistants in the local co-op were able to point me in the right direction and I arrived with a good 15 minutes to spare before kick-off cursing the misleading signpost as I walked back past it!

The ground itself is tucked away on the edge of a council estate, but from the inside it seems to be in much more pleasant surroundings, with wooded hills making up most of the views around two sides, and trees behind the other two. At the near end is the Seddon Stand, a small all-seated stand directly behind the goal featuring four rows of seats and the location which the home fans have made home to an impressive array of flags. The far side is mostly hard standing although centred on the halfway line is another covered stand with seats in, which is similar to the far end, where the Harold Taylor Stand runs the full width of the pitch, with a single step of seats, except behind the goal where there is a second row (ironically with the worst location in this stand thanks to the goalnets blocking most of the view!). Finally, and unusually for this level, there is a fourth side of covered seating along the near side, which is made up of hard standing at either end, and 3 separate seating areas in the middle, with two portacabins stacked on top of each other providing an elevated view for the directors thanks to a balcony. The facilities and an impressive clubhouse are located directly behind.

Having had a good look round, it was time for the game to start. To begin with, both sides looked really up for it, creating plenty of chances each, with the visitors Glapwell looking as strong as their recent run of form suggested. It was the home side who took the lead though, through what apparently was an excellent goal in the 9th minute from Andy Hurst. Standing inside the refreshments hut at the time, all I saw was the ball drop into the corner of the net, so no description of that one I’m afraid, but it was the signal for Kidsgrove to dominate the rest of the first half, unlucky not go into the break 2-0 up after the referee disallowed a second following the visitors goalkeeper making a meal of a challenge in the box.

After a quick pint in the clubhouse at half-time and a visit to the toilets which are notable for featuring what must be the oldest (surprisingly!) working hand-dryer in the country, it was back out for the second half and whatever Glapwell manager Les McJannett said to his team during the interval must have worked. They looked like a different side, and absolutely bossed the game for the next 45 minutes, starting with an equaliser in the 52nd from Ian Brown, before 10 minutes later they took the lead through Neil Grayson who smashed a bullet header past the helpless ‘keeper in impressive style. A third was added courtesy of substitute Justin Burdett in the 71st minute, before Kidsgrove looked to be back in the game when from a succession of corners they won a penalty after the ball was handled on the line. Unfortunately for the home side they couldn't take advantage, but just a few minutes later they managed to get one back courtesy of Tom Schwartz who lashed home in a crowded area. With the action picking up, it looked like it would be an exciting finish, that is until two minutes from time when the referee made a bizarre decision to effectively award all three points to the visitors. Adam Wilkes in the home goal had come out for a 50-50 ball only to be clattered by the Glapwell striker who went down, seeming to make the most of it. It was a nothing challenge, no appeals were made, and there was no reaction to it until the referee went running up to Wilkes only to brandish a red card and point to the spot. His stand-in could do nothing with the penalty, converted by Michael Fox, and Brown added his second of the afternoon in stoppage time to end the game with catcalls towards the referee as the visitors, whilst perhaps deserving of all three points, ran out controversial 5-2 winners.

After leaving, then I made my way back, not getting lost this time, quickly getting a train from Kidsgrove, back through Stoke and home in good time.

Overall, it had been quite a good day out. The ground is superb for the level it’s at, and really is a hidden gem considering there seems to be so little information out there about it. With that in mind, then I’d be quite happy to go back there one day, and would recommend it to anyone wanting to make a visit.

Welcome to Kidsgrove Athletic

Outside the Ground

Rear of the Seddon Stand

The Turnstiles

The Clubhouse

The Main Stand

Seats in the Main Stand

The Seddon Stand

The Far Side

Rear of the Far Side Stand

The Harold Taylor Stand

Match Action

The Seddon Stadium Panoramic


No comments:

Post a Comment