Groundhopping · Grounds · Non-League

Bamford

Wednesday 21st April 18.30
Hope Valley League Premier
Bamford 0 Doveholes 1 HT: 0-0 Att: 40 hc
90
from Bamford Recreation Ground

This was another Hope Valley League venue; I was whipping through them now, this being the fourth in 10 days – only three to go to complete the top flight. Bamford is very much the epicentre of this league, lying just a few miles west of Hope itself and just up from the post town of Hope Valley. The head of the Hope Valley lies just below Mam Tor in Castleton, flows down to Hope and on as the river Noe towards Bamford where it meets the Derwent. Although technically now the Derwent Valley, the Hope Valley continues to be used to describe its later course through Hathersage and Grindleford.

Bamford is properly at the heart of the Peak, near the popular town of Castleton, the river Derwent and the spectacular Ladybower Reservoir. The village itself is not particularly touristy but provides a starting point or walkthrough for many ramblers. It’s population was just 1,241 at the last census but it does have an active train station. Nearby, the village of Bradwell is famous for its ice cream. Less appealing but more amusing is the village of Shatton – the sign for which came into view with perfect timing as the other Dave and I were discussing the teams in action tonight. Childish but irresistibly funny.

Would one of tonight’s teams be…

The Hope Valley really has provided some fantastic venues to visit during lockdown, that I might never have seen otherwise. The Peak District generally is a wonderful part of the UK, and very understated and overlooked. People from the south seem to eschew it for the Lake District and wax lyrical about the amazing views there, and amazing grounds, such as Ullswater and Sedburgh & Dent. I just think, yeah, there’s half a dozen of those in the Peak District that nobody ever talks about. And having grown up around the South Downs I’d say that the Peak is better and much more spectacular. Better still, it is nowhere near as touristy as either, so maybe it’s a good thing they’re not as hyped up.

The ground lies quite a bit before Bamford on the left hand side, off Water Lane, coming up Station Road between the station and the village. It is right next to the river Derwent and a few hundred yards beyond is Bamford Mill. Further up Water Lane is a Quaker Church.

The pitch is part of the wider Bamford with Thornhill Recreation Ground, with playground at the front and some surplus grass in the foreground in front of the clubhouse. Like a lot of Hope Valley venues, the pitch was near the train track, this bit the Bamford to Hope section, and a regular flow of trains could be seen travelling past.

I was surprised to see a stand of sorts up one corner. An old rustic shed affair looking more like an animal pen then a spectating facility, but I’ll take it. Other than Chapel Town, I think this was the first stand I’d seen within the Premier division.

As the match progressed it became apparent that Bamford had a serious issue with their venue, one which I’d never witnessed before. They started to run out of balls, as one side of the ground was covered in thorn bushes. Two match balls popped during the game, one of which came out audibly hissing and was down to a pancake in minutes. As the team asked for other balls it became apparent that their whole supply seemed to have thorn damage in some shape or form, and there was a slight fear that they may run out. That’s an unfortunate and very costly aspect of a ground for a team of Bamford’s resources.

This was a mid-table clash this evening, but it was Doveholes who looked the slightly better side in a fairly dull first half where there were few chances. A goalless draw was looking ominously likely. Nil nils didn’t used to bother me when I supported and watched league games with Brighton, but since getting into non-league and groundhopping, those scorelines invoke a disproportionate sense of terror and foreboding.

In the second half Doveholes really turned the screw on the hosts and dominated possession, but the goal still eluded them. When, near the end, what looked like a perfectly good goal was disallowed for offside, it seemed the football Gods had spoken and demanded a 0-0. Cemented by some great saves and missed sitters. Dave and I were resigned to the Lovecraftian horror of a Hope Valley League 0-0, something never mentioned in these parts, or if so only whispered followed by making a sign of the cross.

However, in added time, an inswinging cross hit the upright and bounced down to the forward who controlled it and smashed it in, to scenes of delight and wild celebration. The Doveholes players and management were also pleased.

Another great Wednesday night football fix in a magnificent part of the country.

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