Date: Wednesday Apr 13 2011
Ground: Whitcombe Road
Comp: Staffordshire County Senior League (step seven)
Match: Foley 0 Ball Haye Green 5 HT: 0-1
Additional: Entrance FREE, Programme NONE
Whitcombe Road in pictures
Ground Statistics (marks out of ten, maximum 40)
Character 7, Structures/Terracing 5, Hospitality 4, Backdrop/Scenery or aesthetics for larger stadiums 8
Foley FC were formed in 1947 and are named after a now forgotten area of Fenton, one of the six towns of Stoke on Trent, which is in the south east of the city. (Incidentally, it is Fenton that was eschewed by the famous writer Arnold Bennett in his ‘Five Towns’ stories). The name of Foley lives on though in clubs and pub and street names. I used to play for Foley chess club. (Yes, my true sadness is now unravelling).
Foley have had ambitious plans in recent years to upgrade their ground to Step six standards and to have Whitcombe Road adopted by the council. I don’t know for sure what the situation is, but I think that any plans they had have been thwarted at the planning permission stage. A blow for their future plans seems to have affected their efforts on the pitch, as they lost their first 20 games this season, only recently picking up their first points with a win at Manor Inne. They are normally strong contenders, so it is a shame to see them struggling.
Their ground, however, is an absolute gem. It is thus far my favourite in the division, and won’t be topped as I have seen, but not always watched a game, at all of the others. It’s even better than the floodlit Ball Haye Green venue, in my opinion. Expectations aren’t high as you walk along the cratered unadopted Whitcombe Road, but a ground full of character awaits at the end.
I was very disappointed to find out there was no charge. I feel this may be a sign of a club in decline, as most games I’ve been to in the Staffs League charge £2. I would’ve happily volunteered to stand at the entrance and collect £50 for them – it makes a difference to clubs at this level. The clubhouse is a smart new brick building.
These are the only stuctures in the ground, but what gives it loads of character are two large banks, behind one end and partway along one side and some great views of the city behind the other goal. Its setting is also very secluded and peaceful; on a warm sunny evening it makes for a great atmosphere.
Tonight’s opponents were Ball Haye Green, top of the table and heading for the title, barring a late surge from Hanley Town. So it was bottom versus top. Half expecting a 0-10, I was surprised at how close the first half was, and was rooting for the underdogs Foley, to spring the surprise score of the season. However, Balle Haye Green took a 1-0 lead into half time and ended up running away 5-0 winners, a slightly harsh scoreline on the hosts.