Wednesday 5th August 2015
Eastwood Hanley 3 Shamblers FC 1 ht: 2-0 att: circa 20 free no prog
from Trentmill Road
Almost twenty years ago I first visited the decrepit ground of the former Northern League club Eastwood Hanley. It was less than 2 years since their demise and their ghostly ground still had the roof lattice on their big side terrace. Sheets of corrugated metal hung from their small covered stand behind the goal. The skeletal burnt-out shell of their main stand was visible down the far corner of the pitch. Almost nine years ago I revisited and not much had changed. Pics here
It was a sad sight, to see a community club, that were regulars in the FA Cup, abandoned to nature. During the slow demise of the stands and terracing the pitch was still used for Sunday leagues and kids’ matches, but a couple of years ago an Eastwood Hanley senior team emerged, with a view to bringing the former club back to glory. The beginnings of a resurrection were happening. They were modest so far but as Lao Tzu says ‘A Journey of thousand miles begins with one step’.
Less is left of the ground; the roof on the terrace is gone, as is the stand behind the goal and the skeletal remains of the main stand are also no more. Only solid concrete foundations remain as clues to its past, although the large side terrace is still in rather good nick and the focal point of the ground. The newly formed Eastwood Hanley started out last season in the Staffs County Division Two North, playing at Longton Rubgy Club. This season they will be at the Hardman Development Centre in Milton; but their pre-season friendlies were to be played at their spiritual home, Trentmill Road.
As I arrived there were many changes in evidence, starting with the smart new housing development around the ground. On entering the site there were two lots of kids’ games on the right and some adult games taking place on the left. It was a hive of sporting action. The old Eastwood Hanley ground is on the right beyond the first pitch, being used for schoolchildren this evening. New parking has been made available and many portacabins line the site with various functions including refreshments. The buds of regeneration were in evidence.
The long terrace is still in good condition; it wouldn’t take much to restore it to former glory. Foundations still seem to be in evidence in the other parts of the ground where there were structures. Graffiti on the far wall giving it an East European tinge.
The game tonight was against Potteries & District Sunday League side Shamblers. The PDSL feeds into the Staffs County League. With Eastwood in the regional second division there shouldn’t be much between the two. Eastwood took an early league after some comedy defending. The next twenty minutes saw the home side defence go AWOL as Shamblers had four clear cut chances, three one on ones with time to spare that were all somehow missed. Eastwood then doubled their lead before half time with a well hit half volley.
The second half saw some more missed chances, but a poor back header from Eastwood set up a tap in for Shamblers to get back in the game. Only a minute later the best move of the game, a neat one two was slotted in at an acute angle for 3-1. Shamblers went on to miss a penalty by an embarrassing margin with about 15 minuted left, and it stayed 3-1.
Good luck to everyone connected with the club and let’s hope they can replace Norton United as Stoke’s number one non league team.