Tuesday 26th January 2016 ko 19.45
Northern Premier League Cup 2nd Round
STAMFORD AFC 4 (Wightwick 12 38 Duffy 19 Smith 36)
BUXTON 1 (Wiles 17)
Over the years I’ve spotted a trend amongst groundhopppers- when a new ground opens people tend to drop everything and visit. Now I understand that completely when a ground is about to be demolished, visit now or never, but not for the new-build. After all the new-build will almost certainly lack the character of what its replaced. Stamford’s former home, Hanson’s Field was a glorious case in point.
Stamford moved to the Borderville (or Zeeco if you’d prefer the sponsored name) Stadium in 2014 when the Burghley Estate decided to build houses on Hanson’s Field. And herein lies the dichotomy of the groundhopper.
Every groundhopper who visited Hanson’s Field will mourn its passing and many will look at the Zeeco Stadium and quickly write it off as bland. But the hopper tends to look a the stadium, and those open spaces are the real story here.
Look for the 3G pitch behind the far goal, and the sports centre at the back of the car park, and imagine the revenue that can make for the club. It may not be the fat of the land, although the club are nicknamed the Daniels after Britain’s fattest man Daniel Lambert, but income like that is vital to small clubs like this.
Then look at the open end and the open side. At present its just flat standing, but imagine the club getting promoted and needing to expand, and there’s all the scope they need to do that here. This ground isn’t about character (that will come), it’s about potential.
The problem Stamford have in the here-and-now is on the pitch. They’re finding it tough to maintain Premier Division status, so a morale-boosting win against a depleted looking Buxton side will have done no harm. On a personal level it was good to see a player older than me still strutting his stuff. Daniels’ keeper Paul Bastock (aged 45) is a legend of the lower-league game, a veteran of stints at Boston United, Dagenham & Redbridge and St Albans, and he rolled back the years once again here.
In the final analysis I suspect neither club were or are particularly interested in this cup, the Northern Premier League does run a lot of them! But when you pay a visit to this place, right on the Lincolnshire/Rutland border, see less of what’s physically here, and see the potential.