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August 2021

Life beyond the horizon: where the crowds are small and the beer is cheap

By Tony Attwood

Towards the end of last season Drew and I came up with the idea that, when the occasion permits and we are not occupying our seats at the Ems (or in Drew’s case, standing up in front of his seat) we would try and get to a few lower league games, just for the fun.

We’ve both got a history of watching clubs other than Arsenal over the years, so it is not a “let’s look at the locals with their funny ways” but rather what will hopefully be an enjoyable occasion, a exploration, and simply a different experience.  A day (or at least an afternoon) out.

However I’ve pre-empted the official Untold reports on lower leagues by taking in my local club Corby Town yesterday in their final pre-season game against Bishops Stortford.

Now first things first.  Corby Town were managed by Eddie McGoldrick for 2000-2001 season (there’s an article on Eddie and his connection with Northamptonshire on the Arsenal History site). They also used to have an advert in the programme each week from Rangers FC wishing the club all the best (Corby has a large Scottish population within it).  But that, like the Rangers FC club house has all gone.  Life moves on.

And besides, looking at the managerial list, half of England have managed Corby.  Anyway, Corby were relegated from the Conference North in the last match of last season, Bishops Stortford finished 10th.  This season Corby play in the Southern League Premier Division.  The Bishops are back in the Conference South which is a lot more logical.

Steel Park, Coby’s ground, has an official 3800 capacity, although it is hard to see how they could all fit in.  There is covered terrace behind one goal, a new plush seated stand along one side, and the other two sides are narrow and flat.   This new ground was built two years ago as part of the Corby redevelopment scheme (Corby is going through a massive period of growth, has a new swimming pool that was used for Olympic practice a new shopping centre, new railway station, new supermarkets, and goodness knows how many new houses.  Tens of thousands I think).

So I arrived with two friends and three under 10s (none mine I hasten to had), and I was a little surprised by the price.  The children were free – that’s good.  Our charge was £8.  That’s one sixth of the cost per game of my Arsenal season ticket.  Was it too much?   Well it was a pre-season friendly for a team playing in the 7th division.

I don’t mind paying, I just thought it might be more like a fiver.

Anyway, we spent a pleasant half hour talking football in the bar (the TV screens have gone – a cut back for this year I fear) and then took up seats in the stand.   That took a few moments (what with me talking too much and so not finishing the pint Ian kindly purchased for me) and as we strolled round to take our seats the first goal went in.  Corby one down in the first minute.

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So we chatted, the game progressed, Corby were, I am sad to say, not in it (although improved in the opening part of the second half) and the home team lost 0-5 in the end.   But some relief was provided by the linesman on our side of the pitch.  Not overweight in himself, he had such a beer belly that it really looked like he had a spare ball under the shirt.  (I’m probably going to be accused of being alcoholist now as well as racist). (See earlier articles about Polish names).

The crowd was about 140 including, I think, about 20 from Bishops Stortford.   It took under one minute to reach the ground from the car park, and another minute to drive out onto the main road.  Then ten minutes and home in time to catch Arsenal’s recording of the 3-1 thrashing of Manchester City.

For Corby it is going to be a tough season, as things stand, but I am looking forward to the game against Poole Town.  My parents moved from London N17 to Poole when I was eleven, so my dad and I switched allegiance from Arsenal to Poole.  Since then they have had their downs, but are now back in the Southern Premier – I must look to see when the game is.

If you never make it to lower league club matches, I suggest a day out with the family; you’ll be surprised.  If you do, and you’d like to contribute to the series (if we can make it a series) on watching other teams when Arsenal are not playing, do drop me an email.

Now, are we all ready for the Villa.  Drew, are you driving or is it my turn?


17 comments to Life beyond the horizon: where the crowds are small and the beer is cheap

  • blacksheep63

    very disappointed here as I was really looking forward to a “let’s look at the locals with their funny ways” article (sorry post..we can’t say ‘article’ its too elitist for some). I’m keen to see Forest Green Rovers and FC Guernsey this season – the former ran out 8-0 winners yesterday while the Donkeys beat Herne Bay 1-0.
    Coventry are currently playing Bristol City in Northampton today which says something about the state of football in the lower leagues. I’m looking forward to a few trips out though thanks Tony, and its your turn I think 🙂

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Ah alcohol ! Some shrewd observations ! I’ll , hic !…. drink to that !

    Alcohol is not the answer, it just makes you forget the question.

    “My doctor tells me I should start slowing it down – but there are more old drunks than there are old doctors so let’s all have another round.”
    Willie Nelson

    Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.
    George Bernard Shaw

    Alcohol gives you infinite patience for stupidity.
    Sammy Davis, Jr.

  • Blacksheep63

    Nice referencing Mr Brickfields 😉

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Blacksheep63 – Ta ! My life has become easier since I learned to cut and paste !
    Check it out at this site .

  • JohnW

    I say, we ban Tony from talking about Corby until the next International break! But he got it right, i can’t wait for the Villa game to come.

  • Pat

    Interesting about the development of Corby, Tony.

    I see there has been a lot of commercial and house building.

    What do people do for a living there now? I imagine there isn’t much steel any more, the industry to which many Scots were encouraged to move some decades ago.

  • nicky

    You cannot expect those of us with delicate constitutions to travel to watch Corby from all points of the compass, without first knowing the full griff on catering. What food is available in the restaurant atop of the plush seated stand (with private boxes?).
    Is Corby noted for a special dish? Has the Town its own Delia?
    Do we all have to bring our own prawn sarnies? If so, it’s quite clear to me that you have no idea the effect excess mileage has on a prawn.
    I await your persuasive rubbish.

  • Adam

    I must confess that Corby and the surrounding area has earned me a fair amount of money recently. So thank the shite plumbers and gas fitters from the area. I consider this an area of work creation for me.

  • Joe

    Hi Tony,

    Re: the ‘racial abuse’, would you like to be referred to as Stony Asswood? Just a slight misspelling of your name.

    I don’t think it’s racist, but it is pejorative and no doubt offensive, and disrespectful.

    What are your thoughts?

  • @Swales68

    Typical Corby getting the tourist fan in now, they just sit there with their beer & pies. £8 a ticket the board are forcing the real supporters out, taking away the tv’s the board are just ripping the true fans off. A team like Corby shouldn’t be losing 5-0 at home, where are the signings that were promised this managers lost it. I don’t blame him though its the board clueless they just sit in thier comfy seats eating prawn cocktails and quaffing cava while the real fans are being priced out of the game. We want our Corby back, I’m going to organise a march well not a march perhaps a walk against the board. Not against the manager as its not his fault although he supports everything the board are doing and he has full support of the board (don’t want to alienate ourselves from the majority of the fan base and look stupid if we turn this around and win something do we).

    So who’s with me I still support Corby but I will show my support by not going that will show them, I have protest scarfs to sell they are blue in protest against the way the club are being run. Not to sure what to call our blue scarf wearing group any ideas let me know I will be in the pub

  • Abhishek Kumar

    Hi Joe

    I think thats insulting because you are using words like asswood… I dont think most of the people like your suggestion. An innocent banter like Tony Offwood may had been fine but not using inappropriate words like this..

  • Joe

    Hi Abhishek,

    But an Ass is just a donkey. I don’t see how that could be offensive? I’m aware that Americans use the word to mean arse, but I’m English so it means donkey. Strange how changing the spelling of somebody’s name can be offensive to one person and not another, hey?


  • nicky

    Sorry if I rattled your cage. On behalf of every Prawn Munching Trust in the country (PMT for short) I must protest over the continued attacks on the Trust by football followers who should know better.
    Not only do we keep the fishing fleet well occupied, but the bread and butter industry are grateful for our custom, not forgetting those who cut the crusts off our sarnies.
    All I ask is that any demonstration outside the plush stand at Corby Town, be kept as quiet as possible, particularly at times when we are eating.

  • @Swales68

    Lol we at the blue scarf marchers (BSM for short it’s got a good ring to it) will publish a list of demands in the near future about our aims for the club. We will be the voice for all Corby supporters everywhere whether you like it or not.

  • nicky

    @ Swales68,
    While we’re at it, we never drink that ghastly sparkling wine Cava with our sarnies….the prawns don’t like it and it makes the sarnies go all soggy.
    A classy light German white like Niersteiner is the right drink. Three or four glasses tends to blot out watching what that shower is doing (or not doing) on the pitch.

  • @Swales68 how about the SBM – Smelly Bowel Movement… has a certain ring to it no?


  • nicky

    I’m surprised you haven’t replied to my 5.52 of yesterday, at least to acknowledge my effort to put your neck of the wood on the prawn sarnie map.
    Or maybe that sort of publicity is just what you DIDN’T want.