Monday 24th May 2021 18.45
Hope Valley League Premier
Fairfield 5 Baslow 2 HT: 2-2 Att:
from Buxton Rugby Club
This was one of my favourite trips of the season. I’m not quite sure why; I think it was the mixture of it being a rarity, close by, scenic and a great game to cap it off. Fairfield usually play at the Fairfields Centre, which is a multi-pitch sports facility in Buxton and didn’t tempt me in the slightest, which is why I’d left Fairfield as one of only two teams I’d not seen in the Hope Valley League top flight.
However, rumour had it that they were playing their final games of the season at Buxton Rugby Club, which did sound very tempting. The allure was short lived as I’d read on Non League matters forum an account of somebody going, where they played on a satellite pitch to the main rugby pitch. This no longer tempted me; where there are ‘complexes’ or multi-pitches it has to be the main pitch or nothing.
On this note, I recently re-calibrated my ground count which led to a removal of four ticks, three of which being different pitches on the same site. Namely Northwood Stadium (3g and grass), Keele University (3g and grass) and Sandbach United (main ground and satellite – my greatest blunder). The other ground. by the way, to be removed from the records, was Bower Fold of Stalybridge, where I saw their game with Southport abandoned after 85mins. I’ve got strict now – my rules are to the letter of the groundhopping law – the letter.
Anyway, while at another Rugby ground watching football on the Saturday (Featherstone Rovers and Wakefield AFC), ground hopper Nick told me that Fairfield were playing Monday on the main pitch at Buxton. This was brilliant news and an absolute must see.
Buxton Rugby Union Club, incidentally, play in step eight of the Rugby Union Pyramid in the Midlands 3 East (North) Division. They play a few miles outside Buxton on the A515 towards Ashbourne. From where I live it’s a great drive between Leek and Buxton past the Roaches, one of the most scenic stretches in England, and then you hang a left before Buxton on Grin Low Road, which is again another rural classic of a road. Less than 25 miles door to door. The Rugby Club is off Burlow Road and pretty much in the middle of nowhere with great views. There is a sizeable car park.
Buxton has a large clubhouse with a veranda on the second floor affording an elevated view of the game. The snack bar was open tonight, which was a bonus, selling the usual football fare you’d expect.
The ground railed on the near side and on the far side is a fence-like boundary, beyond which is a drop down to another pitch. There are some wonderfully rusted rugby posts stood behind the football goals. The padded bits said Centurion on making me wonder if they were borrowed from Leigh? The stanchions were a first for me, with the back stanchion going straight down from the top corner; a hypotenuse to the opposite and adjacent upright and ground, bringing to mind memories of GCSE maths and Pythagoras. Given the angle, I could tell you its length.
The sun was dropping in the sky over Hen Cloud below, a hill which comprises the the Roaches, casting a wonderful light on the game.
The crowd of around 18, mostly hoppers, stood on the near side mostly as this atop a bank that gave the best views of the ground. I’d seen visitors Baslow the previous week at home where they provided a brilliant game ending with a last minute winner in a 4-3 victory. They are generally very high scoring, so I had high hopes for the game and I wasn’t disappointed. It was end to end from the start with Baslow taking the lead after Fairfield’s keeper was tackled, and the ball played into the area to be tapped in. The Baslow keeper spilled a shot for Fairfield’s equaliser, but then Baslow retook the lead with a penalty. The hosts drew level again before the break and then in the second period started to dominate and expose Baslow’s dodgy defence to run out 5-2 winners.
Once again the Hope Valley League produces an entertaining high-scoring game and this time at an unusual and, obviously for this league, scenic venue.