Stamford 0 Blyth Spartans 1 (26/3/16)
I took the train for this one although it was not much quicker than the supporters coach from Blyth. That was due to a broken rail line between Durham and Darlington with all North/South trains having to use the same line. The train was delayed by an hour. It should have taken two hours to Peterborough but in fact took three.
While waiting for the fifteen minute train to take us onto Stamford, I spotted another Blyth fan on the platform. He was one of the Amble lads and I felt instantly envious of him instantly as he worked on the railway and got his journey for nothing using his employees rail pass. Unfortunately for myself working in the National Health service, it delivers no such perks. I had not met this Blyth fan before and we chatted and got on instantly as you do with fellow travelling Blyth fans.
I had pencilled this new ground in to visit right from the start of the season and it seems to have taken ages to come around. At least I was travelling to see Blyth play today and it would be a game I could be passionate about.
Last time I was at Stamford they were playing at the Hansons Field ground which was right next to the railway station. Nearby that area where the ground used to be is a graveyard called St Martins. Here lies buried a Daniel Lambert (died 1809) who at the time was England’s heaviest man weighing nearly 53 Stone or 335kg. Apparently it took 20 men to carry the coffin. Due to this bit of history the club are known as ‘The Daniels’.
Stamford itself is worth a visit and ‘The Times’ described the Town as the best place to live in England. The 17th and 18th Century buildings, older timber framed houses and 5 parish churches dating from medieval times give Stamford an oldie feel about the area.
The club now play at the Zeeco stadium which is on the edge of town. It also comprises sport facilities for local schools. The ground holds 2,000 with 300 seats. As you go in your on the side of the social club, changing rooms and seated area. Behind one goal is quite a good covered terrace area but the rest of the ground is just hard standing. On the opposite side of the main facilities is a large banked grass area so it would be difficult to develop that area in the future. Behind the other goal there would be room in the future to extend the ground but that’s all time and money.
Stamford were formed in 1896 and played for decades in more localised leagues until they transferred to the Northern Premier league in 2007. That first season they were relegated to the Northern Premier league South division and stayed they for 6 years. Eventually they won promotion and still play in the Premier division.
In the FA cup Stamford have never made it to the first round proper and the 4th qualifying round is the furthest they have got. In the FA Trophy they got through to the 5th round proper in 2005 when they lost narrowly at home to Exeter City 1-0. Perhaps their greatest moment came in the FA vase when they defeated Guisborough Town 2-0 in the final at Wembley. Stamford have been in the Final before and after that but lost both times. They lost to Billericay in 1976 and against Stansted in 1984.
Spartans had a tremendous following in numbers today and got right behind the team from the start. The game started with Blyth firmly in command and possession of the game. Ironically it came very close with the home side nearly scoring first with a shot that rifled over the bar. Eventually the teams went in 0-0 at half time. Stamford are currently playing for their lives in trying to retain their Northern Premier league status. It does not matter if we are top or not they were going to put up a fight.
It took up to the hour mark to get that all important break through. Dan Maguire scored from close range and he instantly celebrated with the jubilant Blyth fans. I would have liked another goal to kill the game but it was not to be. Thankfully Blyth won and came away with all three points. The only down side was learning Darlington had also won despite being behind in their game. When are ‘Darlo’ ever going to drop points?
Personally I think it is going the wire this season between us and Darlington. I find it hard to see where they are going to drop points as they seem on steamroller run at the minute. But as Jimmy Greaves used to say, “it’s a funny old game” as in football we often see the unexpected happen in expected situations.
The average age of the Blyth team this season is 22 years. What ever happens at the end of the campaign, they have done the club proud. The team and the club is the reason I will pay silly amounts of cash to travel by train to watch the lads give it their all on the pitch. Come on Blyth!