Oadby Town
Topps Park

Ground No. 178
Visited - Saturday 28th March 2009
Result - Oadby Town 1-1 Alvechurch
Competition - Midland Football Alliance
Attendance - 77

Situated just outside Leicester, Oadby is a small town most famous for being the home of the Comic Relief Red Nose, or more precisely where they’re manufactured. On a smaller level, it’s also the location of Topps Park, home to Oadby Town FC.

Founded in 1937, the club were originally known as Oadby Imperial, changing their name shortly after the war. Following a successful life in local Leicestershire leagues, they eventually stepped up to the Midland Alliance in 1999, and until recent seasons seemed to be punching their weight, even winning the League in their first campaign. Since 2005 though, the club have been struggling, with 2008/09 proving to be no better. Topps Park wasn’t a venue that particularly spoke out to me it has to be said, but completing the MFA has been a semi-serious thought since I first became interested in non-league football, so I was determined to get along, even if reviews and advice didn’t seem particularly favourable.

I’d set off mid-morning, arriving in Leicester for midday, popping down to the Rugby club’s Welford Road ground to see the progress of their new stand before making my way to Oadby. The visitors were Worcestershire based Alvechurch, so a big crowd wasn’t expected, but after arriving, the car park was already fairly full, so I went in only to be struck by disaster… no programmes! They’d sold out by 2:20pm, although in true helpful non-league style, the turnstile operator later came up to me to say he’d managed to find a spare one and the day was saved!

Coming in behind the goal, the near end is where the clubhouse and changing rooms are located, with hard standing running the width of the pitch. The far side and end are also hard standing, as is most of the near side, however in the middle sits the Main (and only) Stand, featuring four rows of bench seating with a little directors area at the near end. The clubhouse itself is quite a modern building, which apparently is being extended in the near future, so after settling down there for a pint and a read of the fortunately acquired programme, the time passed and 3 o’clock soon came round.

I’d only seen Oadby once before, away at Tipton three years previously in an awful 1-1 draw, and with the programme notes opening with an apology to the fans for having to watch the previous game, it didn’t exactly bode well! The game got underway, and perhaps predictably, it started badly and went downhill from there. Neither side impressed, both looking generally awful, despite the visitors sitting in the top half of the league. Oadby’s defence were putting in a charity drive to match Comic Relief and they were nearly behind in the 14th minute when everyone just stood still in the box to watch an Alvechurch player gently lob the ball over their heads and onto the bar. It summed up the game, and eight minutes later, another defensive blunder opened the scoring, although this was at the opposite end of the pitch when one of the visiting defenders managed to head an easy clearance right across an empty box to the unmarked Brian Quailey who took the opportunity well and poked the ball home past the keeper. If this was the chance for the home side to take the upperhand, then they soon threw it away. Straight from kick-off, Alvechurch managed to win a corner, and with the home defence doing their statue routine again, another poor clearance fell to James Ince who had all the time in the world to pick his spot and level the scores with just one minute having passed since the hosts took the lead. That was the end of any interest in the first half, despite 20 minutes still to play, and the less said about the second half the better! It truly was one of the worst games I’ve ever seen, and with neither side registering a shot on target, it was a merciful release when the ref finally blew his whistle for everyone to go home.

After leaving, I made my way back into Oadby for a drink before getting home via Leicester with no problems on the way. Despite the awful game, I was still glad to have come. The ground, whilst not the most developed, is quite a pleasant setting, and has a bit of character with its rustic old stand and leafy surrounds. With some friendly fans/club officials, then all it would really take is a return to their early millennium form and a trip to Topps Park might be considered a more attractive proposition!

Welcome to Topps Park

Outside the Ground

The Near End and Clubhouse

The Main Stand

The Main Stand

The Far Side

The Dugouts

Ready for Kick Off

The Far End

The Near Side


No comments:

Post a Comment