Graves 55, O’Connell 73
Additional: Entrance £6 (Children FREE), Programme £1.00, Coffee/Tea £0.80
Station Road in pictures
After a few months of Leek Town taunting their fans with play-off aspirations one week, only to dash them the next, they were now sitting in the last play-off spot after a cracking 4-2 win over Cammell Laird. Today they were away at runaway leaders Mickleover Sports. There was an anticipatory buzz around Leek they they could upset the league leaders and further cement a play-off berth, giving rise to an unusually high away following at Station Road.
This was Mickleover’s first ever season at step four, and after a dodgy start (including an enjoyable 3-2 defeat at Harrison Park) they had recently won 17 games on the trot to be hot favourites for the title and step three football in the Unibond Premier. Though they were founded in 1948 they only entered the non-league pyramid in 1992, joining the Central Midlands League. Last season saw them promoted from the Northern Counties East Premier League. Their recent rise had been quite rapid.
The big Leek contingent travelled down the A50 to the Derby suburb of Mickleover, to swell a usual home gate of 150 to 229. The four of us (Tom, his son Sam, Dylan and myself) stopped off at a pub just down the road from the ground on Station Road. It served a pint of Old Speckled Hen, which is rare on draft. There was an ample beer garden for the kids to run around in a bit while we whiled away 30 minutes. (This, by the way, was the first time I’d seen a team with the suffix ‘Sports’).
Station Road is a very tidy ground. Work has been ongoing to improve the facilities at Station Road since 1992 and their inauguration to the Central Midlands League. Floodlights were installed in 1997 in order for them to progress to step six non-league, and a 280 seater covered stand was built to enable them to progress to the Northern Counties East Premier League in 2006/07. It is in a similar mould to Carlton’s Bill Stokeld Stadium. Good parking facilities, smart clubhouse and everything looking fairly modern including the surrounding fences.
Mickleover’s entrance price was the cheapest in the league, with adults paying £6 and children free. The clubhouse was I think the only football clubhouse I’ve ever been to that sold real ale. Well done Mickleover – about bloody time that a football ground offered more than the traditional soul destroying choice of Worthington Creamflow or Tetley’s. This seemed to be very popular for obvious reasons and it was packed pre-match. Reason enough to revisit Station Road methinks. To add to the whole real ale/country pub atmosphere there were benches outside to drink on while watching the game.
The exciting build up in the aforementioned beer garden was tempered by the fact that my Leek away record this season was diabolical. After seeing their first away game at Willenhall (winning 2-1) the basic rule has been – if I’m there they’ll lose, if I’m not they’ll win. Their away record was 8 2 8. Alas, my hoodoo run continued. Despite an even, goalless first half, they must’ve spotted me at half-time and promptly put in a performance like an untied balloon farting around haphazardly. Mickleover scored two without breaking from a canter and had that top-of-the-table air of not looking particularly amazing but nevertheless winning quite easily.
Mickleover have since secured the Unibond League One South championship – well done!
Station Road in pictures