Saturday 17th April 2021 13.00
Hope Valley League Premier
Ashover 2 Chapel Town 4 HT: 1-1 Att: 15 hc

from Calver Crossroads

This was a hat-trick of Peak District grounds for me in the space of a week. Once again a Hope Valley League Premier game, with the home team playing at Calver Crossroads, not their usual ground. I don’t know the reason, but this match was being played on Calver FC’s home soil, a team from Division A – the second tier. Ashover lies south west of Chesterfield and their usual Ashover Playing Fields is 14 miles away.

On the subject of the divisions there are three in the Hope Valley League – Premier, A and B, with 11, 9 and 8 teams respectively.

While Ashover the place, lies just outside the peak district, Calver Crossroads sits well within it, with Bakewell and Chatsworth House to the south and the plague village of Eyam to the west. The crossroads is a very busy intersection for Peak traffic and was very heavy on this sunny Saturday afternoon. It’s a real walkers and bikers hub with a Regatta clothing shop, bike shop, three pubs, two garden centres and a couple of Spars going on. The River Derwent snales round the crossroads with an offshoot called Stoke Brook running near the ground.

With the traffic bad and the venue being right on the crossroads parking was a bit of an issue. The Calver & District Field car park had minimal spaces, forcing most to park on the grass verge.

There was a smart yorkstone wall and changing rooms at the site, with a patch of land between it and the pitch. A couple of tennis courts / five-a-side pitch lay to the right. The pitch was beyond a drystone wall, which was a nice aspect and reminder of where we were. This wall and the natural borders of trees made for an enclosed ground, although there was no perimeter bar or even rope surround. It was a verdant setting but not quite in the same league as recent Hope Valley venues, such as Furness Vale and Yougrave. The incessant traffic took a bit away from the sylvan idyll.

A two minutes silence for Prince Philip was adhered to beyind the dry stone wall. His funeral was later today, hence the early kick-off.

Once again, on a sunny day in the middle of the Peak, it hit home that my previous snobbery on what sort of venue I would watch football at, was misplaced. A run out in a national park, dry stone wall, rural setting and great photo opportunities, probably beats inner city 50 seater stand and spindly floodlights, in groundhopping Top Trumps. It’s only in these Covid times, when anything above step seven is verboten, that I’ve been lured East to these pastoral venues, and what a delight they’ve turned out to be.

I saw Chapel Town on Wednesday get thumped 6-2 at fellow title contenders Furness Vale. That probably ended their title contention, but today they faced weaker opposition in 3rd bottom Ashover. It was Ashover who struck first though on 15 minutes in a fairly even first half. Chapel equalised on the half hour. Early in the second half Ashover got a penalty which was duly dispatched by their keeper in proper José Luis Chilavert style.

Despite taking a second hald lead Chapel were a threat and there was a sense of inevitability about their comeback in the way there often is when you have a discrepancy in league position. They scored three great strikes to get thre three points and come away 4-2 winners. Two of the goals were caught on camera.


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