Adventures in Football #12: Claines Lane (Worcester City FC)
August 3, 2021
WORCESTER CITY vs. KIDDDERMINSTER HARRIERS XI
I come from Bromsgrove, so I understand that sometimes everything goes tits up. Bromsgrove Rovers ceased to exist, and Bromsgrove Sporting are the phoenix club that emerged to replace them. Worcester City never went out of business but based on their business it’s hard to understand why that is. They have no ground for starters. Having sold St George’s Lane to property developers in 2013 they’ve been a nomadic team ever since, playing at Kidderminster and Bromsgrove until finally returning to Worcester this season after eight years away.
They’ve been busy trying to replace St George’s Lane but the original 2013 plans of moving to Nunnery Way fell through. They wanted to move to Perdiswell but that fell through. Finally, they tried to get land at Parsonage Way but the land was found to be unsuitable. It’s not been a joyous hunt for a new home. Claines Lane is the home of the Worcestershire FA. Obviously, it’s not set up for a long-term tenant and it’s way out of the city centre.
The previous ground, St George’s Lane, was along the canal. It’s still a beautiful location. I went down there to take myself a selfie by the condos that replaced the ground. There are still signs that a football team used to play there. The nearest tunnel under a canal has a mural on it depicting Worcester’s famous 1959 FA Cup victory over Liverpool (they beat Millwall the round before 5-2). Sadly some knobhead has decided to ‘tag’ it with his shitty graffiti. Worcester beat Liverpool in 1959. Some twat scrawled his name here in 2021. Levels to these achievements.
Match day swiftly arrived and, full of Subway (Meatball Marinara ftw), we strolled up to Claines Lane to watch Worcester City play actual football in Worcester, for the first time in 8 years. First we see Coventry back at the Ricoh and now Worcester City back in Worcester. What a pre-season this has been. The 1.2 mile walk is mostly a pleasant stroll but we also got to walk past Adventure Golf! Look at the plane! I generally dislike golf, as it’s a bit of a rich man’s sport, but mini golf is a different story.
Parking is a bit of an issue at Claines Lane. It’s the one problem with using this site for non-league football instead of youth football. There’s one small car park at the front of the ground, which is basically reserved for staff. The fans had to go and park at the local school. It seemed fairly well organised. We walked so it wasn’t an issue. Maria turned up halfway through the second half and parked in the staff area somehow.
Another peculiarity is this massive, fenced off, pond right by the entrance to the ground. It’s definitely in reach of the pitch if someone punts a clearance that way. We didn’t get to see a splashdown this evening but we did get to see a clearance land in the 3G pitch, which is alongside the pond.
I was expecting very little of Claines Lane and this view shows how minimal the ground feels from the entrance. The goals are on wheels and it feels like a training pitch. Apart from the two stands over to the one side for spectators and the congregation at the back. We’ll get there soon enough. I’m pleased the game is taking place on grass. A lot of non-league teams have gone the 3G route and while I get it, I’m never thrilled with a plastic pitch.
As we make our way around the pitch, past the dugouts, we spot a burger van atop the hill. I’m still debating what part of the ground I want to watch the game from. Josh nips up for a hot dog, which he opts to eat dry but apparently is good quality.
This is the view from the burger van. As you can see, a little elevation transforms the view and I was debating just staying put.
Here’s a view of the plastic pitch next door. One clearance landed over here necessitating a bloke having to walk around and get it. From this new vantage point I could see why people were flocking to the hill. There was a bar in the Worcestershire FA building. The whole bottom left hand corner was an open plan bar area. All the doors wide open because it was pretty warm. I nipped in to peruse their board of fare. I ended up with a pint can of Carling poured into a plastic glass. Living the fucking dream. It’s not even particularly cold.
Not that I’m complaining. The view from the bar is tremendous. It’s like watching a game in a pub’s beer garden. Complete with overhanging trees and the occasional wasp. We’re at the end Worcester City is attacking and the first half is all Worcester. We get that action right in front of us. Worcester were treating it like a big deal and had mascots accompanying them onto the pitch. Part of the joy of football is the sense of community you get and it was as much fun watching the kids running around on the pitch at half time as it was watching the football. Dreams are made on football pitches up and down the country. Who knows which of these kids will go on to play in the top leagues or represent their country?
The attendance is a, frankly astonishing, 462. I was expecting around 100-150. That’s been the standard for this level. Worcester City being back in Worcester has clearly caught the local imagination and they will be well supported this year. Capacity at Claines Lane is 1000 people. There will be a few people stood on the hill between fence and bar if they get 1000 in the ground.
I took this one the way out so you can see where we stood. It’s just to the right of tree #4. The views were sensational. I loved the whole experience. Maybe it was the low expectations that made me love Claines Lane so much but whatever it was, the place felt special.
We can’t get through a trip, even a local one, without some sort of Josh mishap. This one coming at the bar as he’s gone to get me a beer and comes back with Becks Blue. “I panicked” he stats. Hey, at least I’ve never had that on Untappd so I can tick it off (it’s horrible btw, the dude that used to only drink that – get some tastebuds mate).
Oh, and the result? Worcester City won 2-0. Kiddy sent their youth team and were outmatched. Worcester City’s #2 Luke English had a barnstorming game down the right. He also possesses a long flat throw. The FM player in me was elated to see it. Dan Westwood side footed Worcester in front after good work down the right side. Substitute Billy Shaw, on loan from Halesowen, fires in a powerful second from the edge of the box to make sure of the points. Debuting goalkeeper Brendan Bunn had to make a great save to keep Kiddy blanked at 1-0 but Harriers youth team didn’t deserve a share of the spoils and 2-0 was a fair result.
I enjoyed Claines Lane so much I’m mentally pencilling it in for midweek action during the season where I’ve got nothing else to go to. Welcome back to Worcester, Worcester City FC!