From over 70,000 plus at Old Trafford on Thursday to a crowd of 185 hardy souls at The Seddon Stadium, home of Kidsgrove Athletic FC for an EVOSTICK Divison One South league match v Market Drayton Town.
A neat little stadium surrounded by trees, The Grove welcomed me and my companions Jeff, Sheldon and Vanya up into their 'inner sanctum' a small two storey portacabin Executive Box with all the bottled beer, cider, sandwiches and tea that you could consume. There were 17 paying sponsors and another dozen club officials and us 4 freebies filling the space, with a nice balcony with a dozen chairs and standing room to watch the match. www.kidsgroveathleticfc.co.uk
This is the heart and soul of English football, Forget Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, The Emirates, for a few minutes. This is about the 9th tier of The Beautiful Game. It still costs this small club about 2,500 pounds to pay players, coaches and any other expenses each home match. The entrance fee of 7 pounds and less for seniors and children doesn't nearly cover it.
The sponsors, and each match day they fill the small space, have a great time and at half-time the 'piece de resistance'. Wright's steak pies and chips, just 17 for the big wigs here at The Grove.. I went downstairs to the Committee Room for tea and sausage rolls. There I chatted with a couple of old timers, volunteers who had been supporting their club for SIXTY YEARS, since the club was founded in 1952. MAGNIFICENT !!!
It wasn't a great match for the memories. 0-0, about as exciting as kissing your sister, and one point each. The nearest BIG TIME clubs to this small North Staffordshire town are Stoke City and Port Vale, both about 20 minutes away. There is a large function room and a pleasant bar for after the match chat which brings in revenue from many functions throughout the year. The official programme had lots of advertising including full page ads. facing each other for Joseph Edwards & Sons Family Funeral Directors since 1882 and NEW Soccerade 'Our official Sports drink Sponsor' featuring a photo of CRISTIANO RONALDO who has yet to play at The Grove.
A pleasant afternoon for the faithful.