A great non-league trip back to where it all started
Back in the 90s I saw a flyer for kids football training. I went along and had my first taste of organised football at the Causeway in Cinderford. I was back in the area at the weekend, so decided to make the Causeway my first non-league visit of the season. The Causeway has hardly changed since then and the club is as friendly as ever.
Ticket price: £5
Refreshments bought: One Coke, One Mars bar (£1.70)
Star Player: Josh Nelmes (Cinderford midfield)
Cinderford is one of the two main towns in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. They’ve been the top Football club in the Forest since I arrived in the area in the early 90s. ‘The Foresters’ will be back in the Southern League West Division this season after an eventful couple of years having been promoted to and then relegated from the Premier Division. The club initially wanted to refuse promotion due to increased costs but it was forced upon them by the FA. The resulting fallout saw the club lose several key players and manager of the successful promotion winning side.
Cinderford is a small town but the Causeway is tucked away near the town’s leisure centre. Unless you know the town well you’ll probably need to use a sat nav or a map to find it. Once you arrive there, however, there is a car park at the back of the ground and you’ll likely be met by one of the friendliest turnstile operators in the game.
From what I could see the ground had not changed at all since I’d been there in the 90s. On the clubhouse side of the ground is the main stand as well as a secondary covered seating area and covered standing section. The view from the main stand is partially obstructed but the lively support from the locals more than makes up for it. Supporters can also stand at both ends and the other side. There is also a bar, very accommodating food hatch and even a club shop.
From the outset this cross-border friendly had a little more edge than the league friendlies I’d been two over the past few weeks. Cinderford, playing with three centre backs, looked the better technical side but Pontypridd had some pace up front and seemed to get the better of most of the 50/50 challenges. As the game settled into a pattern the Welsh side had the better chances and won a penalty. Fortunately for the Foresters it was brilliantly saved by Clarke.
The second half continued in a similar vein as both sides began to rotate their players. Pontypridd eventually made the breakthrough with around 15 mins remaining. The goal seemed to bring out the best in the home side. Cinderford created their best chances of the game in the last 10 minutes but the closest they came was a 10 yard shot rebounding off the post.
The visitors picked up the pre-season win and everyone headed for the exit. Players and crowd exit via the same corner of the Causeway using a two-way gate system. It looked like it would be equally as affective for controlling sheep – something the locals are very familiar with.
Cinderford was a great venue for my first non-league trip this season and I would highly recommend it. It’s a welcoming place and a picturesque ground. I even caught a glimpse of the Brecon Beacons in the distance from the opposite side of the main stand.