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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mildenhall Town

24-10-2009: Mildenhall Town 4 Harwich & Parkeston 3
(Ridgeons League Premier Division)

Mildenhall Town

Two years ago I made the journey from East Suffolk to Mildenhall through torrential rain arriving at Mildenhall Town’s Recreation Way Ground only to find that the game I was planning to watch had been postponed over two hours earlier due to a waterlogged pitch.

Today it rained intermittently - in between bursts of brilliant sunshine as the clouds moved elsewhere to shed their loads - but not enough to threaten the game or indeed (as it turned out) the entertainment level in a gripping, OK moderately engaging, seven-goal tussle that the home side, the ‘Hall, clinched by the odd goal. A win sealed by a second half penalty, one of two shared by the two sides.

The home side enjoyed a purple patch between 2004-05 and 2007-08 finishing in the top six four seasons in succession, a run that included a runners-up spot in the Ridgeons Premier Division in 2007. Last year they settled for mid-table but have struggled during the opening months of the current campaign with today’s three points lifting them just clear of the drop zone. Harwich (a bit more on them here), on the other hand, are now without a win in thirteen outings, and remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.

Tucked away behind the local swimming pool and town centre car park the first thing you notice about the ground (apart from an interesting mural-ly looking thing on the side of the clubhouse) is the pronounced slope of the pitch. Second are the mature trees at the bottom end of the ground and their colourful autumnal display. These occupied camera and I for a number of minutes before kick-off, and during breaks in the action, although I’ve spared you all but one tree picture in today’s offering of snaps (link at bottom of this post).

Mildenhall Town

Mildenhall, a not unattractive market town sitting on the edge of the Fens, is probably best known for the two large US Air Force bases close by. During the Second World War East Anglia was covered with airfields of a multitude of shapes and sizes, and two survivors from that era, RAF Mildenhall and, three miles to the north-east, its sister base RAF Lakenheath are the largest US Air Force bases in the UK. They both continue to feature regularly in post WWII action. Two examples…

After the Rome and Vienna airport massacres of January 1986 allied intelligence services revealed conspiratorial Libyan involvement, and three months later, on April 14, fighter-bombers from Lakenheath and three other support bases in England launched a retaliatory strike on Tripoli.

Fifteen years later the record for the longest long distance bombing raid in history was set during Desert Storm by an American B-52, when it flew from the US to Iraq, and then returned to RAF Mildenhall afterwards. Many other missions during the conflict flew in and out of the two bases too.

Today RAF Mildenhall provides air refuelling to US and NATO aircraft over Europe, while Lakenheath is home to the USAF’s 48th Fighter Wing.

From Battle fields to ploughed fields and Mildenhall grabbed the headlines back in the 1940’s when a Suffolk Ploughman discovered a hoard of 4th century Roman Silverware which has since become known as the Mildenhall Treasure. Now housed at the British Museum, the haul included a two-foot diameter silver platter (which weighed in at 18lbs) plus other mostly tableware items.

Mildenhall Town

Back to football (although I’m done with Mildenhall Town I think), and in the latest post on the entertaining 300 Grounds and counting the author says that one of his criteria for adding a new ground to his list is that it must have hosted a meaningful contest, basically no friendlies. Which is fair enough. Others won’t count a ground unless they’ve seen a goal scored there. Which seems a bit odd. A friend of mine has “done” Doncaster Rovers (two visits to their old Belle Vue ground) although he’s not been to their new Keepmoat Stadium and doesn’t plan to either. Just a bit obstreperous.

A simple soul I have no criteria whatsoever. If a ball is being kicked around on a pitch in anything remotely resembling a ground it goes on the list. My rule used to be that an entrance fee had to have paid but then that would have ruled out my visit to the Nou Camp in 1979 when I was given a complimentary ticket. Rules are there to be broken. Or dropped.

To do a ground properly a visit during day light hours is best so that I can photograph it without the aid of a flash gun although I do prefer the atmosphere at night games the best, even when there are just a few fans on hand to watch.

Likewise, the criteria for selecting a game to watch is also quite simple: proximity to where I’m staying/working at the time in a village/town/city that has something else remotely of interest in it or close by. Which could be anything from a jam factory to a cathedral to a decent Chinese Restaurant. I’m easy to please.

More pictures here.

posted by chevblue at 1:46 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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Great Yarmouth Town
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Hadleigh United
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PEC Zwolle
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PSV Eindhoven
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SC Heerenveen
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Twente Enschede
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Twente Enschede
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Vitesse Arnhem
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Willem II
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Dublin City
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Widzew Lodz
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SPAIN

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Real Madrid
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Valencia
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Orgryte IS
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Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois
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Malmo FF
(Malmo Stadion)

Mjallby AIF
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Trelleborgs FF
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IFK Goteborg
(Ullevi)

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Chicago Sting
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Chicago Sting
(Wrigley Field)

Chicago Sting
(Chicago Stadium)

Chicago Sting
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Chicago Sting
(Rockford MetroCenter)

Chicago Vultures
(Odeum)

Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)