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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wisbech Town

12-09-2009: Wisbech Town 2 Norwich United 2
(Ridgeons League Premier Division)

Wisbech Town

Today a trip to Wisbech Town - in the Cambridgeshire Fens - on the very extremities of the Ridgeons League. I think that only Godmanchester Rovers are further away from the HQ of the Eastern Counties Football League in Ipswich and, of course, the home of ExtremeGroundhopping.

OK, strictly speaking this was not a trip to Wisbech itself but the temporary home of the football club in the village of Outwell three miles to the south of Wisbech proper. The club moved to Outwell twelve months ago while a new stadium is built for them, although various planning hold ups have meant that the actual construction of the Fenmen’s new home didn’t begin until last week. All that appears to be outstanding now is approval of a grant by the Football Foundation, and so Wisbech Town will continue at Outwell (ground sharing with Cambridgeshire County League side the Outwell Swifts') until work is completed.

Wisbech Town               Wisbech Town

This temporary home (known as “The Nest” for reasons I’ve not been able to fathom) is essentially the village playing field (entrance for spectators is via the village hall) with various add-ons to bring it up to the required standard. A 118-seater stand of metal construction has been installed along one touchline, on the opposite touchline is small and low wooden stand (the dugouts sit either side of this) while three tent-like structures have also been added at various points around the pitch to provide shelter to those that prefer to watch their football in a fully upright position.

Floodlights have also been installed which, from what I gather, will remain in Outwell when the club move to their new home. The metal stand will however move with them. Record attendance at “The Nest” is 160, with just over 100 turning out to watch today’s game.

Wisbech Town

David Bauckham’s excellent Pyramid Passion has a number of pictures of the Fenmen’s old home here, which looked like a real gem of a place. It was sold for £1.4 million to a property developer to, ostensibly, clear the clubs debts. So another classic non-league ground lost forever. Their new home will be less than a mile away but I suspect it will struggle to come close to matching the character of it’s forerunner.

Away from football for a minute. Ipswich and Wisbech have one historical link in anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson. Clarkson (a bit of hero of mine which is why is getting a mention here) started his life in Wisbech and spent the later years of it in the small village of Playford a few miles to north-east of Ipswich. In between time he played a major role in the passage through parliament of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which ended the British slave trade. There is a large memorial (with statue) in Wisbech and a smaller scale memorial close to his final resting place in Playford Church yard. Streets in Wisbech and Ipswich also bear his name.

Wisbech Town

Despite this Wisbech is quite an interesting place and here are some interesting (really) facts:

  • Two of the main participants in the Gunpowder Plot, Robert Catesby and Francis Tresham, were both held at Wisbech castle, a notorious prison in Tudor times.
  • Rev. W. Awdrey, the creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, was Vicar of nearby Emneth from 1953 to 1965.
  • The farm of Tony Martin, who gained notoriety for shooting and killing one of two men caught burgaling his home, is just outside the town.
  • Peckover House in the center of town (built in 1722 and acquired by the Peckover family in the late 18th century) is now owned by the National Trust, and as luck would have it was offering free admission today keeping Mrs Extreme Groundhopping entertained while I was at the football.
  • The local inhabitants became known as the "Fen Tigers" during their resistance to the draining of the fens in the 17th century.

Ironically it was the draining of the Fens that brought prosperity to Wisbech. The draining left behind a rich landscape perfect for agriculture. Landowners and merchants grew wealthy and built rows of elegant homes along the banks of the River Nene in the centre of the town. Facing each other across the river they are considered to be, my guide book tells me, some of the finest examples of Georgian streets in the country, regularly featuring in costume dramas on TV and film.

Wisbech Town

Back to the football and Wisbech Town have enjoyed some success in the FA Cup, counting Ipswich Town, Colchester United, Reading, Newport County, Wycombe Wanderers, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion and Bristol Rovers amongst their opponents in that competition, although their 1-10 loss to the Brighton in 1965 remains the clubs record reverse. They’ve enjoyed some decent runs in the FA Vase too, reaching the semi’s two years in a row, the first in 1985 and again in 1986.

Two times winners of the United Counties League, and three times winners of the Eastern Counties League (most recently in 1991), they also spent twelve years in the Southern League finishing as Champions in 1962.

More pictures here.


Click on the thumbnail below for a panorama of "The Nest".

Click for a larger image

posted by chevblue at 5:08 pm

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extreme groundhopping

a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club

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Ground Visit Record


AFC Bournemouth
(Fitness First Stadium)

AFC Portchester
(Wicor Recreation Ground)

AFC Sudbury
(King's Marsh Stadium)

AFC Totton
(Testwood Park)

Aldershot Town
(Recreation Ground)

Alton Town
(Alton (Bass) Sports Ground)



Aston Villa
(Villa Park)



Basildon United
(Gardiners Close)

Billericay Town
(New Lodge)

Birmingham City
(St Andrews)

Blackburn Rovers
(Ewood Park)

(Bloomfield Road)

Bolton Wanderers
(Reebok Stadium)

Bolton Wanderers
(Burnden Park)

Boston United
(York Street)

Bradford City
(Valley Parade)

Braintree Town
(Cressing Road)

Brantham Athletic
(Brantham Athletic Sports & Social Club)

(Griffin Park)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Withdean Stadium)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Goldstone Ground)

Bristol City
(Ashton Gate)

Bristol Rovers

(Hayes Lane)

(Turf Moor)

(Gigg Lane)

Bury Town
(Ram Meadow)

Cambridge City
(Milton Road)

Cambridge United
(Abbey Stadium)

Charlton Athletic
(The Valley)

Chelmsford City
(New Writtle Street)

Chelmsford City
(Chelmsford Sport & Athletics Centre)

(Stamford Bridge)

Chester City
(Saunders Honda Stadium)

Colchester United
(Layer Road)

Cornard United
(Blackhouse Lane)

Coventry City
(Ricoh Arena)

Coventry City
(Highfield Road)

Crewe Alexandra
(Gresty Road)

Crystal Palace
(Selhurst Park)

Dagenham & Redbridge
(Victoria Road)

(Watling Street)

Debenham Leisure Centre

Derby County
(Pride Park)

Derby County
(Baseball Ground)

Diss Town
(Brewers Green Lane)

(Sparshatts Stadium)

Ely City
(Unwin Ground)

(Goodison Park)

Fareham Town
(Cams Alders)

FC Clacton
(Rush Green Bowl)

FC Fleetlands
(Lederle Lane)

Felixstowe & Walton United
(Dellwood Avenue)

Framlingham Town
(Sports Ground)

(Craven Cottage)


(Emerald Park)

Gosport Borough
(Privett Park)

Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)

Grimsby Town
(Blundell Park)

Hadleigh United

Halstead Town
(Rosemary Lane)

Hamble ASSC
(Follands Park)

Harwich & Parkeston
(Royal Oak)

Havant & Waterlooville
(West Leigh Park)

Heybridge Swifts
(Scraley Road)

(Glass World Stadium)

Horndean Town
(Five Heads Park)

Huddersfield Town
(Leeds Road)

Hull City
(KC Stadium)

Hull City
(Boothferry Park)

Ipswich Town
(Portman Road)

Ipswich Wanderers
(SEH Sports Ground )


Leeds United
(Elland Road)

Leicester City
(Walkers Stadium)

Leicester City
(Filbert Street)

(Victory Road)

Leyton Orient
(Brisbane Road)

Lincoln City
(Cincil Bank)


Long Melford

Lowestoft Town
(Crown Meadows)

Luton Town
(Kenilworth Road)

Manchester City
(Maine Road)

Manchester United
(Old Trafford)

(Ayresome Park)

(The New Den)

(The Den)

MK Dons
(National Hockey Stadium)

MK Dons

Needham Market

Netley Central Sports
(Station Road Recreation Ground)

Newcastle United
(St James' Park)

Newmarket Town
(Cricket Field Road)

Northampton Town
(County Ground)

Norwich City
(Carrow Road)

Nottingham Forest
(City Ground)

Notts County
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Peterborough United
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Petersfield Town
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Plymouth Argyle
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Port Vale
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(Fratton Park)

Preston North End

Queens Park Rangers
(Loftus Road)

(Madejski Stadium)

(Oakside Stadium)

Romsey Town
(Bypass Ground)

Rotherham United

Saffron Walden Town
(Catons Lane)

Salisbury City
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)

Scunthorpe United
(Glanford Park)

Sheffield United
(Bramall Lane)

Sheffield Wednesday

Shrewsbury Town
(Gay Meadow)

Shrewsbury Town
(Prostar Stadium)

Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)

(St Mary's)

(The Dell)

Southend United
(Roots Hall)

St Albans City
(Clarence Park)

Stanway Rovers
(New Farm Road)

Stockport County
(Edgeley Park)

Stoke City
(Britannia Stadium)

Stoke City
(Victoria Ground)

Stowmarket Town
(Green Meadows Stadium)

(Stadium of Light)

Swaffham Town
(Shoemakers Lane)

Swindon Town
(County Ground)

Thetford Town
(Mundford Road)

Tiptree United
(Chapel Road)

Tottenham Hotspurs
(White Hart Lane)

United Services Portsmouth
(Victory Stadium)

(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)

(Bescot Stadium)

(Fellows Park)

Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)

(Vicarage Road)

Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium

West Bromwich Albion
(The Hawthorns)

West Ham United
(Upton Park)

Whitton United
(King George V Playing Field )

Wigan Athletic
(JJB Stadium)

(Plough Lane)

Winchester City
(Denplan City Ground)

Witham Town
(Spa Road)

Wivenhoe Town
(Broad Lane)

(Kingfield Stadium)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Woodbrige Town
(Notcutts Park)

Worcester City
(St. Georges Lane)


Cardiff City
(Ninian Park)


(Pittodrie Stadium)

Heart of Midlothian
(Tynecastle Stadium)


Northern Spirit
(North Sydney Oval)


SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Tivoli Stadion)


RSC Anderlect
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)

FC Brugge

SV Zulte-Waregem


FC Kobenhavn
(Gladsaxe Stadion)

Helsingor IF
(Helsingor Stadion)


FC Flora
(Lillekula Stadium)


HJK Helsinki
(Finnair Stadium)

(Hietalahti Stadium)

Tampere United
(Tammelan Stadium)


(G.Guichard Stadium)


1. FC Koeln
(Mungersdorfer Stadion)

Borussia Dortmund
(Westfalenstadion )

1. FC Union Berlin
(Stadion An der Alten Försterei)


AZ Alkmaar
(Alkmaarder Hout)

AZ Alkmaar
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)

FC Dordrecht
(GN Bouw Stadion)

FC Groningen

FC Utrecht
(Galgenwaard Stadion)

(De Kuip)

NEC Nijmegen
(Goffert Stadium)

PEC Zwolle

PSV Eindhoven
(Philips Stadion)

SC Heerenveen
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)

Twente Enschede
(Arke Stadion)

Twente Enschede
(Diekman Stadion)

Vitesse Arnhem

Willem II
(Willem II Stadion)


Bray Wanderers
(Carlisle Grounds)

Dublin City
(Tolka Park)


Inter Milan
(San Siro)


Avenir Beggen
(Stade Josy-Barthel)


Skeid Oslo


Widzew Lodz
(Stadion LKS)


(Nou Camp)

Real Madrid
(San Bernabeu)

(Luis Casanova)


Orgryte IS
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))

Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois

Malmo FF
(Malmo Stadion)

Mjallby AIF

Trelleborgs FF

IFK Goteborg


Chicago Sting
(Comiskey Park I)

Chicago Sting
(Wrigley Field)

Chicago Sting
(Chicago Stadium)

Chicago Sting
(Rosemont Horizon)

Chicago Sting
(Rockford MetroCenter)

Chicago Vultures

Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)